A runaway cow that swam the width of Aberdeen Harbour was shot today following failed attempts to save it.
The young heifer, which had been transported to the city from Orkney, escaped while being offloaded from a NorthLink ferry onto a livestock transport float at around 8am.
The animal was said to be a little “wild”, and after plunging into the water managed to swim across to the harbour’s North Pier, near Pocra Quay.
However, at around 1pm a gunshot echoed across the harbour as an armed police unit, on the advice of a vet, put the cow down.
And tonight the Scottish SPCA said they were “satisfied” with the decision.
Aberdeen coastguard was notified of the incident at 8.35am, and immediately deployed the Aberdeen inshore lifeboat.
Several other harbour vessel also attempted to help with rescuing the animal.
A police spokeswoman said: “We were made aware of an escaped cow at Aberdeen Harbour at around 8.40am on Tuesday.
“We assisted with the recovery of the animal which unfortunately had to be humanely destroyed on the advice of a vet.”
Police were said to have feared for public safety with the animal loose, after the heifer lunged itself head first at a coastguard crewman in the morning.
The spokeswoman added: “Destruction of the animal was the last resort. Public safety and animal welfare were considered after all other efforts to restrain the animal were unsuccessful.”
Scottish SPCA chief inspector, John Carle, said, “This was a very unfortunate situation and it is sad that it ended in the death of this cow.
“However, given the circumstances, we are satisfied this was the most humane course of action to take to ensure the animal did not suffer further.”
The animal had been on-board NorthLink’s MV Hrossey ferry, which transports passengers, cars, freight and livestock to and from ports across the north of Scotland, Shetland and Orkney.
The ferry left Hatston Harbour in Kirkwall at 11.45pm on Monday, and arrived in Aberdeen at 7am today.
An Aberdeen Harbour Board (AHB) spokesman said: “Aberdeen Harbour can confirm that a cow entered harbour waters at around 8.10 this morning after it broke free whilst being loaded onto a transport float.”
A spokeswoman for NorthLink Ferries confirmed that employees trained in dealing with animals had assisted the emergency services in trying to recover the cow.
A Footdee resident, who watched the animal swim to Pocra Quay, said: “I was here at about 8.15am. Cows are fantastic swimmers. The tide was going out when she came into the water, so she did benefit from that.”
She described seeing the cow almost make it to safety near Footdee at one point in the morning.
She added: “The coastguard actually had her on the pier and she got spooked again. She charged the lifeboat, I just saw her going for it.”
The cow made it’s way onto a seaweed-covered ledge by the pier at around 9.30am, and seemed settled, but as large crowds gathered it headed to the end of the pier.
Strengthening tides then began to cause concerns for rescuers.
John Gray, who witnessed much of the commotion, said: “I wouldn’t have done that. I thought they would have tranquilised it, but it’s up to the vet at the end of the day.”
It is not known whether the animal had been shipped to Aberdeen for sale or not.