Bulgaria has agreed to spare the life of a cow after plans to kill it for crossing European Union borders without paperwork triggered an international outcry.
Penka wandered away from its herd near the Bulgarian village of Mazarachevo last month and walked out of the EU into neighbouring Serbia.
Tweet from Paul McCartney: I think it would be really nice to see this pregnant cow given a reprieve. She’s done nothing wrong. Join us if you agree.
When it was returned two weeks later, authorities said it would have to be put down as it had violated guidelines under which animals entering the European Union have to have papers verifying their health.
Penka’s plight prompted protests on social media, particularly in Britain where eurosceptic campaigners and publications held it up as a victim of Brussels bureaucracy.
Animal rights campaigners, including former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, signed petitions asking Bulgaria to save the five-year-old animal.
The Bulgarian Food Safety Agency agreed to review the case and said on Monday that lab tests had given it a clean bill of health.
“It is expected the animal will be allowed back to her former home in the village of Mazarachevo by the end of the week,” the agency said.
Animal rights group Four Paws said there were many more Penkas out there as dozens of stray animals crossed in and out of the European Union on a daily basis.
“It will be really cruel to kill all those animals. I do hope that if there is a gap in European legislation, Penka’s case will help to solve this issue,” group spokesman Yavor Gechev said.