The world-famous Bulgarian cow Penka will live. This became clear from the long-awaited release of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency published today (11 June). Just four days ago, the same agency sentenced the animal to death, citing European legislation. However it was the European Commission who greatly helped to reconsider this decision. Krassen Nikolov has the story.
“The results of the laboratory tests of the cow are favorable, and the animal is expected to be returned to the other cows at the end of the week,” the veterinary agency said.
Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas was asked today by the Brussels correspondent of The Telegraph James Crisp to comment the news.
“Long live Penka the cow. Leaving the European Union and coming back – it’s OK”, Schinas said.
EC Midday press briefing of 11/06/2018 https://t.co/JfC6zRttXx via @EC_AVService “Long live Penka the cow. Leaving the European Union and coming back – it’s OK”, Commission chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas said.
— Georgi Gotev (@GeorgiGotev) June 11, 2018
Actually the return of runaway Penka from Serbia to Bulgaria posed problems. Although the animal was issued a document from the authorities of the border city of Bosilegrad that it is healthy, the Bulgarian authorities said EU legislation obliges them to put it to death.
In early May Penka crossed the border between Bulgaria and Serbia in front of the Bulgarian border police which was helpless to prevent the illegal escape, which was captured by the cameras at the border.
The cow reached the nearest town of Bosilegrad. Two weeks later, Penka’s distraught owner, farmer Ivan Haralampyev received a call from the Serbian police to go and collect the animal that was recognized by its EU-standard ear tag. The Bulgarian authorities said the illegally imported animal must be put to death.
The story of the death sentence threatened by the Bulgarian cow made headlines in the world press, although the Bulgarian media didn’t pay much attention to it. The most active were British eurosceptic tabloids. The case was quickly taken up by the British Conservatives. MEP John Flack declared himself in defense of Penka, and journalist from The Telegraph newspaper James Rotwell launched a “Save Penka” petition.
On Saturday, even Paul McCartney called for pardoning the animal by posting on Twitter.
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) June 8, 2018
“I think it would be really nice to see this pregnant cow given a reprieve. She’s done nothing wrong”, wrote the world famous musician.
According to unofficial information, the Bulgarian Veterinary Agency, who insisted that Penka must die, has been the most impressed by the sharp criticism of the MEP Emil Radev (EPP, GERB), who has a significant influence on the ruling party. He hinted that the agency was killing animals to provide income for private incinerators. Radev did not ask for the resignation of the head of the veterinary agency Damyan Iliev, but he sounded sufficiently threatening for Iliev to start thinking in that direction. Only three days after Radev’s statements, Penka the cow was pardoned.
Yavor Gechev of the Four Paws Foundation, who first alerted about Penka’s predicament, commented that the agency had the practice of killing animals in general because it is easier.
“The story is extremely ridiculous and indicative of the actions of our authorities,” commented Gechev before bTV.
The cow was much more fortunate than other animals that had fallen into the hands of the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency.
In February, the agency seized and killed over 100 exotic birds in full violation of Bulgarian law. The institution neglected even a court order, which stated that they should not be killed. Later on, the agency found an excuse by saying that two of the feathered had bid flu. This information was questioned because the institution had not complied with the obligation to inform the European Commission of these cases of bird flu.
The agency got so confused with the documents of the deaths of the birds that it lost track of several of them. In the various papers the number of killed birds ranges from 119 to 143.
At the beginning of 2016, the same institution killed four six-month-old horses from the protected Karakachan horse breed, with the excuse that the animals were transported without documents. The brutal thing here is that the agency killed the animals without even telling their owner and giving him the opportunity to present the documents of origin.
This year, the agency created huge obstacles to the rescue of two small lions, who were literally sentenced to death because of lack of conditions for raising them in a zoo in the northern Bulgarian town of Razgrad. After the protests by environmentalists and the intervention of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the lions were taken to the Netherlands, waiting to be released in a reserve in South Africa.