Steer gets loose at Upstate animal park - FOX Carolina 21

Steer gets loose at Upstate animal park

Posted: Updated: Dec 19, 2013 10:08 PM
The bull on the loose was caught on camera by a visitor. (Source: Cecilia Hiott) The bull on the loose was caught on camera by a visitor. (Source: Cecilia Hiott)

For more than two decades, visitors have been coming to the Holiday Lights Safari at Hollywild in Spartanburg County.

The nonprofit animal park holds the annual fundraiser that includes Christmas lights, music, and a chance to feed the animals. But on Wednesday night, things were dramatically different for a time in the Santa's Village part of the event.

A steer, a male cow that is raised for beef, ended up in the middle of an area with visitors. It included parents and their small children. Some, like Cecilia Hiott of Anderson County, described it as traumatic for both her and her 4-year-old daughter.

"A bull come charging at us and we were kind of pinned behind a light pole. I grabbed her off the animal she was on, like a fake animal she was sitting on, and I grabbed her and we kept going back and forth. The bull was going where we were going," said Hiott.

Once she and her family were safe, Hiott recorded four cell phone videos of the steer. The videos show the steer kicking up dirt at one point.

"It was mad, kicking up dirt and like throwing its horns up at people," said Hiott.

She believes it took workers more than a half-hour to wrangle the steer. Another video shows what appears to be a rope put around the animal's neck before it was taken to an enclosure.

At Hollywild, Director David Meeks says the steer's name is Eggo, and he has an explanation for why it got out of its enclosure.

"He hopped over a pretty high fence and just came out to where they were and he expected some sympathy, and he didn't get much because even though he's a big baby to us, he's huge to everyone else," said Meeks.

Meeks says the steer was in an area with the dominant male bull of the herd. Apparently that bull sent an aggressive message toward the steer and that is when it jumped over a 4-foot-tall fence. He believes Eggo was not angry, but that he was having fun once he realized he was in an open area and away from the bull.

Meeks says while the steer could hurt someone if he ran toward them, he has never seen it do anything like this before.

"We never let him go out there. Out of the 22 years we do it, we've never had one run from a bull and try to get out of there."

A statement by Hollywild Animal Park indicates that it is understandable that there were a "wide range of emotions when something unexpected involving a large animal happens."

Several people left Facebook messages on the Fox Carolina News page describing the situation as a "melee" and "chaos."

But Hollywild contends staff members worked quickly and effectively to reduce "fear or stress."

The steer is being kept in an enclosure by himself, away from the bull. He is still part of the nightly light display that runs through Jan. 4.

As for Cecilia Hiott, she is simply relieved that no one was hurt.

"It was great at first, but the ending kind of messed it up," she said.

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