Children are still crying over spilled milk after hearing on Wednesday that Aggie, the Prospect Park Zoo’s beloved cow, died at age 18 of natural causes.
A Dexter cow, Aggie lived in the barnyard since her birth in 1993, sharing space with sheep, miniature horses and those pesky alpacas. She died on Aug. 25.
Her staccato moos frightened generations of children, but also cheered kids of all ages, many of whom wrote notes that filled her “moo box” and covered a corkboard inside the barn.
“You are beautiful and I would never want to eat you,” wrote one young fan (who clearly miscast affection as vegetarianism). Another wrote, “Dearest Agatha, you are the color to my rainbow…”
Zoo officials said that they will get another cow to replace Aggie and are still deciding on the breed. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the city zoos, refused to answer questions about whether an autopsy had been conducted or how the body was disposed of.
Dexter cows live an average of 15-20 years. Aggie was strong as an ox and slick as a fox. The Daily News reported in April that Aggie learned how to open the barn doors and eat some of the alpacas’ hay. (Take that, pesky alpacas!)
“Aggie will be greatly missed,” said Denise McClean, director of the Zoo. “People grew up visiting her and came back to the zoo to see her through the years. She had a big personality and loved the attention.”
“When my kids talk about animals, they always talk about how much they love the cow,” said Desiree Vazquez, whose 8-year-old twins Nina and Camelo had to satisfy themselves with a fake wooden version of Aggie a few feet from the barn.
Children were wondering where the cow was, not knowing Aggie had left for the big barn in the sky.
“When I told my kids Aggie was sick, they wanted to come to the zoo and take Aggie and snuggle with her until she was better,” Zama Coursen-Neff said. “She’s been scaring my kids with her loud moos since they were tiny babies.
“It’s weird looking at the stall now, it’s actually clean!” she added.
Aggie’s departure has left a void on the barn. “It physically feels different, like it’s empty.” McClean says. “It was always fun to hear her moo randomly during the day.”
Tim Wilkins and his daughter Emma, 3, visited Aggie once a week.
“We would go to her, and say thank you for the milk, the butter and the cheese.” While Aggie might not have actually produced dairy on prairies, she was a source of inspiration for Cathleen Bell’s Little Blog On the Prairie. “My only knowledge of how to milk a cow or what a cow looked like was from Aggie. I spent some time here watching and studying her mannerisms.”
It’s not the first time that Brooklyn has lost an oversized zoological icon. In 2008, the New York Aquarium lost Ayveq, its famed masturbating walrus.