As humans, we strive to achieve a sense of belongingness everywhere we go. We crave for companionship and constantly find ways to make friends and cultivate relationships with other people. The same goes for animals. Unfortunately, for this female bison living in a farm sanctuary, the possibility of forming a bond with other animals seemed impossible.
Helen is a blind bison who has been staying at the six-acre pasture of Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Oregon. She was sent there when her owner could no longer afford the financial burden that comes with her care.
The executive director of the sanctuary, Gwen Jakubisin, says that they made efforts to find a “pasture pal” for Helen. Sadly, however, their efforts were in vain. Helen’s suspicious, nervous, and lonesome behavior didn’t change.
That is until a Jersey calf named Oliver was born.
While all the other animals in the sanctuary ignored Helen, Oliver – with his natural curiosity – was able to tear down the barriers that Helen had built until she came to trust and consider him a friend.
Now, things have completely changed for the once lonesome bison. The pair is now inseparable, and it seems like Helen has “adopted” Oliver as her own.
Every day, Oliver comes out to the pasture to spend time with his friend. They graze, nap, and even enjoy meals together.
“I catch them grooming each other which is amazing because I don’t think Helen has ever had that opportunity to express that motherly instinct before,” Jakubisin said. “The change in her demeanor is incredible, her joy is palpable.”
According to Jakubisin, their relationship has become much like that of a loving nanny who cares for a baby.
“Betsy [Oliver’s birth mother] usually drops Oliver off at ‘daycare’ and roams around while Helen watches over him for the rest of day, and she’s cool with that,” she said.
Although it seems scientifically impossible, Oliver’s appearance has also changed since he became close to Helen. His previously sandy fawn fur has turned into a smoky brown like Helen’s.
“He’s actually turned into a baby buffalo,” the director said.
The Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary, founded in 2002, houses over 200 animals, including pigs, horses, chickens, cows, goats, and sheep. Their mission is to “help shine a light on the realities of animal agriculture and lead the way to a more compassionate world.”
“At Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary we believe that every individual has the right to freedom. Freedom from pain, freedom from fear, and freedom from oppression. We provide those with the most heartbreaking stories hope and the promise of the freedom to be themselves. A promise of companionship, of love, and of care,” they wrote on their Facebook page.
The bond she shared with Oliver gave Helen the confidence to befriend other residents in the farm sanctuary. Now, she is one happy bison who enjoys the companionship of various animals!