A cow was on a transport to Paterson, New Jersey where she was meant to be slaughtered. This is a usual event and doesn’t make news. The events that occured during this journey, though, became an internet sensation, will surprise you, and likely be the most upbeat thing you read today. This isn’t just about a cow escaping slaughter, this is about the life after the escape. The journey the cow took and the lives that were changed because of it.  Over the course of this article, you will likely relate, in some small way, to what this animal did and the reasons behind its escape.

An Ordinary Trip to Slaughter

Skylands of Wantage

There is nothing special about a cow being taken to slaughter. It occurs all the time, and depending on your stance, you either hate the idea of it happening, or you accept that it is just one part of daily life and the meals you eat. No judgement here, but don’t stop reading yet, spoiler alert the cow lives through the entire story.

The Escape

Canadian Cattlemen

While on the trip to Paterson, where the slaughterhouse could be found, something unusual happened. Early in the morning, around 2:45 a.m., Brianna, the cow in question, fell about 8 feet from the second level of the truck headed to the slaughterhouse. But the story is just getting started.

The Chase

Skylands of Wantage

Brianna wandered around the highway for about an hour until she was eventually captured by authorities. It was a bit of a chase, for good reason, but she was not returned to the truck headed for Paterson, instead, one of the police officers, Brian, called a local sanctuary about the escaped animal. Brian is also the reason this cow became known as Briana.

The Sanctuary

Skylands of Wantage

Skylands of Wantage was the sanctuary that responded to Officer Brian’s call. They quickly picked up Brianna and brought her back to her new home. There she would be safe and live out the rest of her life comfortably, little did they know, everything was about to change.

Winter is Coming

Skylands of Wantage

It is somewhat uncommon for a cow to fall from a truck, so the story of Brianna was already a unique story. The next few days would bring an early “winter” to the sanctuary and a storm to the internet as the story spread.

The Early Winter

Skylands of Wantage

Shortly after her arrival it was discovered that Brianna was 9 months pregnant and was about to have a baby. That baby was born at sanctuary and named Winter. The story picked only gets better.

A Mother’s Duty

Skylands of Wantage

While it is impossible to say how or why Brianna fell from the truck headed to slaughter, many attribute this to a mother’s intuition to ensure her calf would be safe. That may be far from the truth as she likely didn’t know where she was headed, but we still don’t fully understand animals, so the sentiment is nice.

So Happy Together

Skylands of Wantage

Today, the good folks at Skylands of Wantage are still taking care of Brianna and Winter and the two enjoy the peaceful life at the sanctuary. They have no fear of heading to a slaughter house and it will stay that way.

The Photogenic Pair

Skylands of Wantage

Brianna and Winter have grown a solid following on Facebook, partly because of their beautiful story and largely because they are such a photogenic pair. People share and comment on their photographs daily, of which there are countless ones.

A Happy Birthday

Warren Westura

Winter was born around December 28th, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. Mike Stura, founder and president of Skylands Animal Sanctuary & Rescue in Wantage, was there for the delivery. He said “Everyone’s doing really well.”

First Time Mom

Skylands of Wantage

This was the first calf for Brianna and while Stura tried to let her do her own thing during birth she started to lose control and backing into the fences and wood, so Stura stepped in. “Help me get this baby, come on mama,” he said encouraging Brianna. “Good girl.” He pulled Winter by the front legs to help her come out safely.

In for the Long Haul

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

Mike Stura has stated, “Mom has been extremely affectionate towards me since her baby was born… They’ll hang out here (at the sanctuary), we’ll look after them and feed them.” Essentially, they will be taken care of from here on out.

The Strangest Thing

At Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue.

Stura is still puzzled as to why Brianna was on the slaughter truck to start with. Pregnant and around two years old, she was still producing milk. Those that are “dry” or “spent” can be sent to slaughter, but it is very unusual for such a young cow to be sent.

More than a One Trick Pony

At Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue.

Skylands is more than just a home for Brianna and Winter, they take care of a wide assortment of animals as well. Christopher is a rescue that has also become a big hit on the Facebook page. For obvious reasons, of course.

Woolly Friends

At Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue.

Brianna and Winter are also getting to know some of the other animals in the sanctuary, such as the sheep that stick together. Again, there is something about these rescued animals that just makes them that much more photogenic.

The Lasting Legacy

At Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue.

The impact that Brianna, Winter, and the other animals at the sanctuary may have on other’s views on how animals are treated is yet to be seen, but At Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue is taking advantage of the fame brought on to raise awareness of what they do, and what they stand for. 

Going Vegan


While going vegan is not for everyone, it has been a rallying cry for many that support the idea. Brianna and Winter are the perfect animals to showcase the beliefs of those that forgo meat to protect animals. Without that fateful drop, Brianna would have never had a chance to bring Winter into the world. The hope from Skylands and those supporting them is that the story will make people think twice before they bite into that next burger.

Each Individual Must Choose

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

This isn’t all to say that you should take this story as a battle cry for vegans. This is a story that is about two animals and the strange story that made them internet famous, while raising awareness for a cause many care about. 

The Skyland Legacy

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

Many fans of the page refer to Jimmy, Mike’s father as a hero that started rescuing animals. Others point to Mike as blazing his own path. Either way, Skylands is a place where family is involved in all aspects and that will likely continue.

Not Done Yet

Skylands Animal Sanctuary And Rescue

Mike and his family will continue to rescue animals that are in need of help and there is no sign of that stopping in his lifetime. They continue to rescue and raise animals of all types, with a specialty in farm animals, and they wear their cause proudly. The sanctuary was a blessing for Brianna and Winter as much as they were for the sanctuary.