“So we’ve got Houdini on the far left, and that’s Eddie with the white markings on his face,” says Michelle Robertson, manager at the Gentle Barn Missouri. “This is Chico in the middle. Chico led the escape, so he is the leader. This is Roo, our cookie monster, and at the very end is Johnny Cash.”
It was March 30 when the St. Louis six made headlines as they escaped a slaughterhouse and went on the run in north St. Louis.
“So the Gentle Barn is a last resort animal rescue and we’re new to Missouri and we take animals who have no other option,” says Robertson. “The other half of what we do is work with children in at risk, inner city and special needs programs, that have the same stories as our animals.”
Former St. Louis Blues center David Backes and his wife, Kelly, saw the steers on the loose and wanted to help. Soon the plight of the cows caught the attention of many who wanted to keep them off of a dinner plate.
When it was all said and done, more than $400,000 was raised to find a forever home for the St. Louis six.
“He loves to be scratched and touched and he’ll rub on you,” says Robertson. “The thing that he is learning and he’s learning it very quickly, is that we’re smaller than him. So usually when we get cows when they’re young like this, they figure out we’re friends and they want to play with us like we’re another cow.”
Just two-months-old, the Gentle Barn Missouri in Dittmer gives hands on Sunday tours where people can rub pig bellies, hold chickens, meet some turkeys, and come face to face with Chico and his friends, spared from the slaughterhouse.
“They’re going to work with children who have the same experiences of PTSD and trauma and fear, and they’re going to teach these kids that there is hope and a way to start over,” says Robertson.
The Gentle Barn says Chico is still a baby at 1,000 pounds and will grow for another three years.