Recent stories about the builders of Stonehenge have made mention of the fact that bones found at the site are from aurochs, a breed of giant cows that roamed England and the rest of Europe until they were hunted to extinction, with the last one dying in Poland in 1627. Scientists in Nazi Germany attempted to bring the aurochs back and a farmer in England with a herd of them claims some that he owns have become killers.
While they’re the ancestors of today’s relatively passive domestic cattle, the aurochs were big (averaging a ton with some weighing up to 3,300 pounds), wild and fierce, making them appealing to Adolf Hitler as symbols of Aryan power. He ordered geneticist brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck to breed them back into existence. The Hecks selected breeds they believed to be direct descendents of the aurochs – including Hungarian Greys, Highlands, Corsicans and Spanish fighting bulls – and cross-bred them until they created a strain that matched the aurochs in looks, including the long and dangerous horns, but were slightly smaller in size.
These so-called Heck cattle were controversial symbols of Nazi genetic experimentation and nearly met the same demise as their alleged ancestral aurochs at the end of World War II, but a few were saved and there are now about 2,000 head in Europe. Six of them belong to Derek Gow of Devon, who imported 13 in 2009 and eventually had 20 but recently culled most of his herd because some became what he described as “killers.”
The ones we had to get rid of would just attack you any chance they could. They would try to kill anyone … They are by far and away the most aggressive animals I have ever worked with. Some were perfectly calm and quiet and they are the ones we have kept. The others you could not go near … To get them into the trailer to get them off the farm we used a young and very athletic young man to stand on the ramp and they charged at him before he quickly jumped out the way.
The killer Heck cows were sent to a butcher and Gow claims the rest are docile and harmless. Where have we heard that about Nazis before?