Life for dairy cows is pretty horrendous. Mother cows are impregnated over and over again to continue lactation and they never get to spend more than a few hours with their beloved children. It’s a truly physically and emotionally draining life for these poor creatures.

But what if we told you that most male cows don’t have it any better. Because these calves won’t grow up to produce milk, they’re considered “waste” by the industry and the only way to make up for this “loss” is to sell young calves for veal. Being that cows are extremely emotional and smart creatures, the experience for both mothers and calves is excruciating. While the majority of cows in the dairy industry have no choice but to swallow this fate … some get a once in a lifetime chance to break free.

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This was the case with one mother cow who broke out of the dairy farm that was holding her by way of a hole in a damaged fence. This smart mama managed to find her way to Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, located in Colombia, and gave birth – to a calf who they named Balarama – shortly after her arrival.

The farmer who owned Balarama’s mother found out where they were and demanded both of his cattle returned, but the staff of Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary begged the farmer to let them keep them. Ultimately, he was unwilling to part with Balarama’s mother who could still provide an enormous amount of milk; however, he let them take the calf for the price of $100 – and with that, little Balarama was set free.

Balarama’s story is tragic, but he’s been doing great since that day. Without his mother, he had to be hand fed by the people at his sanctuary, making him super friendly. At the lofty height of six feet tall, Balarama weighs 1,500 pounds (large for a bull) – but his caretaker Juliana says he’s all the more huggable for it!

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Here he is with his human mom, Juliana. 

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In the care of Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, Balarama enjoys long days of grazing his field and cuddling with the humans and animals he shares a home with.

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The story of Balarama is both a tragic tale of the reality of the dairy industry, but it also carried an uplifting message of  hope thanks to the kind people who saved him from his initial fate. If you’d like to see more animals end up like Balarama, consider donating to Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, here.

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All image source: Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary