by Stephen Messenger - Science / Natural Sciences
Ahh, Spring. It's a time for winter-weary denizens to cast off their cold weather coats and scarves to bask once again in the rejuvenating rays of a new season's sunshine. But it's not just humans who seem to take particular delight in finding that Spring has finally sprung. Even cows, not exactly known for their enthusiasm, are quite clearly delighted to return to graze outside after a long winter's wait indoors -- proving yet again that those purest sensations of joy and hope we feel in springtime are equally enjoyed by our most humble livestock animal counterparts, with whom too often it seems we share so little.
It's hard to not to smile watching this group of Holstein dairy cows in the UK happily skipping to their grazing land having been cooped up in their winter barn to ride out the chilly weather, yet it is at the same time refreshingly disarming to be reminded of the emotional capacity of animals regularly regarded as commodities simply for their flesh.
Interestingly, some nations take such pleasure in seeing the happiness of cows racing to the fields in Spring that it's become annual tradition to watch it. Each year, thousands of Swedes gather to observe what's known as kosläpp, the cow's annual return to graze which has come to mark the end of winter -- a rare bit of interspecies merrymaking that seems to acknowledge, in some small way, that the joy of Spring is joy for all.