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Niles cow escape video: Student prank goes wrong, creates 'udder chaos'

Cow taken to sanctuary after running along streets of Niles for six hours
Cow taken to sanctuary after running along streets of Niles for six hours 02:18

NILES, Ill. (CBS) -- A senior prank went awry Thursday morning, leading to a cow going on the hoof though north suburban Niles for hours.

Video from a neighbor captured a loose cow trotting down the road as a group, later determined to be students, chased it. 

Niles police said students who attend Northridge Prep School "were apparently involved in what was described as a 'senior prank,' by bringing live animals to the school."

Udder Chaos: Cow on the loose in Niles by CBS Chicago on YouTube

Police determined the students bought the cow and a pig on Craiglist. The pig was picked near Dixon, Illinois, and the cow was purchased near Winneconne, Wisconsin. 

Police said a student also brought chickens from home to the school as part of the prank.

The cow escaped and went through a neighborhood.

The animal was first described as a cow. But CBS 2 was later told the animal was a steer – a male bovine that has been castrated. But later still, a wrangler said the animal was indeed female after all, and was a heifer – a young cow that has not given birth.

Cow goes on the loose in Niles after senior prank goes awry 03:14

Three police departments, the Niles Park District, and the wrangler were all on the scene.  

Around 9:15 a.m., police were seen on video wrestling the cow and capturing it. 

Cow secured after senior prank goes awry in Niles 02:53

Police worked with Wagner Farms in nearby Glenview to secure the cow. 

"We created a funnel out of fence panels to get it to the trailer, but we knew when it got there, that's where it was going to get rough," Kuester said.

Wagner Farms can't take possession of the cow, so it will be taken to Hooved Animals Humane Society in Woodstock, Illinois. 

"It was not a happy animal," said Jonathan Kuester, director of Wagner Farms. "I mean, it had been chased around for I think about six hours until we got to it. It didn't want to see any more people."

Kuester said the situation could have been dangerous for both the students and the animal. His fear was that the cow could have been hit by a car.

"It was tough enough for two of us who know how to work livestock to handle them. I don't know how some high school kids thought they were going to do it," Kuester said. "But I don't think pre-planning was part, you know, what went into this."

The students responsible were cited for curfew violation, disorderly conduct, animal feces accumulation, and prohibited animal species in connection to the incident, police confirmed. The school administration refused to pursue any criminal charges. 

Video shows steer's third lap around Niles neighborhood 02:03

Roger Plummer was on his way home from his WBBM Newsadio shift when he captured the cow on video. 

"When I looked up I thought, 'Is that cow running down the street?' Plummer said. 

He said he then saw about a half dozen young men running. 

"I yelled out of course, 'Why is a cow running down the street?'" Plummer said. 

Someone told him, "I'm sorry sir, sometimes things like this happen."

"I've never seen a cow run down my street, and I hope to never see one again," Plummer said.

Harrowing 'tail' of a heifer on the loose in Niles 02:48

Kuester emphasized that the whole prank involving live animals was an incredibly bad idea.

"These were not pets," Kuester said. "Those animals were terrified, obviously – and when you don't know how to handle those things, this is what happens."

Niles student prank involving cow was a really bad idea, wrangler says 02:32

Late Thursday, CBS 2's Sabrina Franza went up to Woodstock to see the cow's new surroundings. By stark contrast to the commotion in Niles, the field where the cow ended up was a sanctuary of sweet silence.

"She's doing very good. She's actually a really sweet cow," said Hooved Animal Humane Society executive director Cynthia Glensgard. "She's very calm."

Rescuing animals is nothing new for the Hooved Animal Humane Society. It works with animal control to take animals in and look for their forever home.

"Make sure they have the appropriate enclosures to handle that kind of animal, and the appropriate staff – meaning vets," Glensgard said.

They're always prepared at the Hooved Animal Humane Society. But they were not expecting the day to go the way it did.

Echoing Kuester, Glensgard said the teens behind the prank created a highly risky situation.

"It could have been very dangerous. The kids could have gotten hurt," she said, "so it could have ended really bad – not only for the cow, but also for anybody involved."

Hooved Animals facilities manager Matthew Kossnar received the heifer into the sanctuary. He expects she is only about 8 months old.

"Wouldn't get up – so it was just standing there for two minutes, and all of a sudden, I'm like, 'Come on!'" he said.

Now, the cow is settling into her temporary lodgings. As for the pandemonium of the day before she arrived, the cow had no comment.

The young cow does not have a name yet, but the Hooved Animal Humane Society is taking suggestions on its Facebook page in exchange for a suggested donation.

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