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Holstein Cow Dies at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

  • Holstein cow Tulip
    Holstein cow Tulip

Kids’ Farm keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are mourning the loss of Tulip, a 13-year-old Holstein cow who was humanely euthanized July 24. Keepers had been monitoring Tulip closely for several days after noticing that her activity, mobility and appetite were reduced. Zoo veterinarians treated Tulip’s discomfort with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Unfortunately, her condition deteriorated over the weekend. Yesterday, animal care staff made the decision to humanely euthanize Tulip. The median life expectancy for female Holstein cows is 15 years. A final pathology report will provide more information in the coming weeks.   

Recognizable because of their distinctive black and white or red and white markings, Holstein cows are a breed of dairy cows. The origin of Holstein cows can be traced back over 2,000 years to the north region of Friesland in Holland. It is believed that migrating herds of black cows and herds of white cows intermixed and the breed was born.

The Kids’ Farm is home to various farm animals, including a cow, donkeys, goats, alpacas, hogs, chickens, koi fish, catfish and rabbits. Designed for children ages 3 to 8, the exhibit provides many urban and suburban children an interactive learning experience with animals while learning about where food comes from. Children have the opportunity to groom the animals under the supervision of keepers in the Caring Corral and are able to touch animals in various locations throughout the exhibit. Zoo visitors can see Rose, a 14-year-old Hereford cow, at the Kids’ Farm.

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Photo credit: Ann Batdorf, Smithsonian’s National Zoo