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Fribourg cow dies a second death

Reports that an ancient breed of Swiss cow was alive and well and living in South America have turned out unfounded.

This content was published on May 14, 2009 - 15:46

The ProSpecieRara organisation, which promotes cultural and genetic diversity among animals and plants, announced on Thursday that tests on blood samples from cows found in Chile proved that they were not, after all, descended from animals imported from Switzerland in the 1930s.

It was widely reported at the beginning of 2008 that the Fribourg cow, extinct in Switzerland since 1975, had resurfaced in Patagonia, arousing hopes that it could be reintroduced to its country of origin.

ProSpecieRara said that the tests, conducted in the Genetic Institute of the Bern Animal Hospital, showed that despite the similar appearance the black and white Chilean animals had no significant relationship with the Fribourg cow.

The organisation said it was disappointed that it had been obliged to close the file on the breed. However, it welcomed the fact that publicity over the issue had brought the fate of rare breeds to public attention. Many others are threatened by cross-breeding, including the red and white Simmentaler, of which very few pure examples remain.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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