Lab tests offer hope for Penka the Bulgarian cow

Lab tests offered hope for Penka the cow who could be put down after straying out of the EU from Bulgaria into Serbia

Sofia (AFP) – A ray of hope shone Saturday for Penka the Bulgarian cow who may be put down after straying out of the EU into neighbouring Serbia, as her first lab tests proved favourable.

Penka’s plight made headlines around the world when her owner Ivan Haralampiev, from the western village of Kopilovtsi, launched an appeal last week to save her.

After her trip into Serbia, Penka fell foul of strict EU rules on the import of live animals from third countries, which require extensive paperwork giving the animal a clean bill of health before it can enter the bloc.

Due to the circumstances around her travels, Penka’s owner lacked the necessary documents to authorise her return, hence the need for laboratory testing to check she is not carrying any diseases and avoid her being put down.

“So far laboratory analyses of the cow, which spent 15 days in Serbia and crossed the border back (into Bulgaria) are favourable,” the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency said in a statement Saturday.

“The final results will be out on Monday and the animal remains under quarantine,” it added.

Penka was intially reported to be six months pregnant but this was later denied by vets.

She has became an Internet sensation since her case came to light, with over 25,000 people signing an online petition to save her addressed to EU institutions.

Former Beatles star Paul McCartney is among those who have signed and thousands have commented on the story on social media using the hashtag #SavePenka .

Her fate was even discussed during the EU Commission’s daily briefing on Friday with climate spokesperson Anna-Kaisa Itkonen answering extensive questions from journalists regarding Penka’s situation.

The case is not thought to be an exception, with animals from Serbia and Macedonia often entering Bulgarian territory, locals from the border region around Kopilovtsi told AFP this week.

In a bid to address the issue, the Food Safety Agency said Saturday it was holding talks with authorities from Macedonia and Serbia.