Ditching the comforts of city life to save cows from slaughterhouse

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am

Francesca Au Yeung Sin-yue gave up her office job and comfortable city life to spend her time rounding up and rescuing cattle.

Dressed in an old shirt and wearing a farmer's hat, Ms Au Yeung looked the part as she watched her cows and buffaloes grazing in a New Territories field on a scorching summer day last week.

Every now and again, she spoke softly into the cows' ears as they returned to their home - a place they may soon have to leave due to the dispute with the owner. 'Did you eat the pomegranate?' she asked 'Long Live', one of her 80 animals.

Giving up the comfort of city living a decade ago, she has spent the past 10 years looking after cattle that have been abandoned and some that were heading to the slaughterhouse.

'I was a very common office lady, working from 9am to 5pm,' said Ms Au Yeung, who did not give her age, merely describing herself as 'middle-aged'. She was born into a well-off family with a 1,000 sq ft flat, a maid and a private car.

She started the Cows' Home in 1997 and devotes 16 hours a day to feeding the cows and cleaning their shelter. Ms Au Yeung said she did not have a particular affinity for cows 10 years ago, instead doing voluntary work caring for sick people.

But one day she heard on the news that cows from Tung Chung were being sent by the government to the Animal Management Centre to be slaughtered. She bought more than 30 cows from the centre and set up the Cows' Home.

Ms Au Yeung said the cows had ploughed fields and served Hong Kong in their own way and should not be abandoned and left to die on roads.

'People just say 'goodbye' to the cows and refuse to take care of them,' she said.

She set up the Cows' Home with a mission to teach people to respect life. She said animals should not be treated as tools and abandoned when they were no longer of any use.

'Only by respecting life can we live in harmony,' she said, adding that she planned to devote the rest of her life to saving cows.