An extremely rare breed of cattle
native to Britain, now confined to a walled
garden in Northumberland
, where 48 live, and another eleven in reserve at a secret location in Scotland.
The herd of white cattle has lived in the garden of Chillingham Park since about 1240, now the last survivors of once wild herds. In 1947 the herd had dwindled to only five bulls and eight cows. In recent years it is up to 15 bulls and 21 cows.
Some protection from in-breeding is given by the fact that the king bull sires all calves born in his three-year reign. The heifers do not reach maturity in this time, so he does not breed with his own daughters.
The animals are fiercely independent (untamable) and are only given extra food at times of severe hardship. They gore to death anyone who tries to touch them. As they couldn't be farmed, they were once hunted. King Edward VII shot some.
The new outbreak, and possible epidemic, of foot-and-mouth disease threatens the Chillingham herd. Being inside a forest, they are not as vulnerable as farm animals, but the high walls have been reinforced.