Editor’s Note: SquirrelWood Equine Sanctuary in Montgomery has notified us they have “accepted Franklin”. Woodstock Farm Sanctuary responded by acknowledging the move and further opining on the idea cows should not be kept in enclosed areas such as Franklin’s old habitat at Forsyth Park.
Kingston social media accounts have been buzzing about Franklin, a steer that lives in captivity at Forsyth Nature Center’s zoo. After Franklin was recently photographed with injuries by staff at Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, a fracas around allegations of Franklin being maltreated has resulted in many thousands of views and passionate comments from locals and animal-lovers all over the world. Official statements were released by Kingston’s Parks and Recreation department strongly denying the allegations, but in the end they decided it was best to move Franklin “to a trusted local sanctuary” after he heals from his recent injuries.
In a Wed. Apr. 19 Instagram post, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary uploaded a concerning picture of Franklin behind bars, mouth agape, with visible injuries to his head and a weeping eye. A long description accompanied the photo, alleging that Franklin’s “living conditions and lack of public care have led to chronic medical issues like what appears to be severe arthritis and long-term hoof neglect which likely led to his fall.”
Woodstock Farm Sanctuary has 143,000 followers on Instagram and is known for being passionate about promoting animal rescue and veganism. Their social media post continued: “We’ve been monitoring his quality of life and health status with frequent visits for over a year and are visiting him almost daily as Franklin now has head and eye injuries with visible scrapes on his body.”
The Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s post went on to claim they have been asking city officials to release Franklin into their custody, and that the City of Kingston was unwilling to “release Franklin to us or any other proper home.” The post ended with a request to join a petition to pressure the city to do so. The post had over 7,800 likes.
Hours later, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary posted again, saying they had heard from Kingston’s Parks and Recreation Department regarding Franklin, and told followers the city had decided to move the steer to a sanctuary, but “we aren’t sure where”, adding “we hope he is going somewhere with the experience and resources to help him recover as there are few places that do.”
Four hours after that post, Forsyth Nature Center posted a message to social media thanking all the folks who reached out to check to see if Franklin was okay. They confirmed “Recently, Franklin the steer suffered an injury, and has received continual and ongoing medical care. He is recovering strongly and steadily and our veterinarian has reported that he is safe and healthy.”
Forsyth Nature Center’s post went on to announce that “recent claims of neglect are patently false” and the park had decided to move Franklin to a sanctuary as a result of “exploring the expansion of its bovine habitat and acquiring a companion animal for our resident cow”, but changing their mind as they began to make those improvements. “This is in no way a reflection on the care beloved Franklin has received,” they added.
While social media users rejoiced in the news of Franklin being moved to a sanctuary, many questioned why the city was not telling the public which sanctuary the cow was being taken to, and why Woodstock Farm Sanctuary — a leading regional farm animal rescue center — was apparently deemed the wrong choice.
On the afternoon of Thu. Apr. 20, Forsyth Nature Center posted a more detailed rundown of Franklin’s woes while still vehemently denying what it said were “false statements being made regarding Franklin’s health and care.”
Forsyth Nature Center claimed Franklin was injured on Mar. 18, 2023 when he entered a “cast position” and was “unable to push himself into sternal recumbency”, which is the normal lying position for a healthy cow, explaining “This can happen to certain types of animals if they roll over or lay down too close to a wall or hard surface”. Staff explained that the facial injuries were from the cow trying to use his head to regain an upright position.
Later that day, the animal was discovered on his side by Forsyth Nature Center staff, who got Franklin to his feet. A veterinarian was called “immediately” and provided care, including an antibiotic which staff claimed was responsible for his weeping eye.
The post goes on to say “Franklin’s new home was recommended by his veterinarian” and though they “appreciate” the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary’s concern, the sanctuary to which he will be moved was being kept secret “because of the false accusations being shared widely on social media and the amount of concern and anger this has caused.”
Forsyth Nature Center staff closed by saying Franklin is “healing well” and further updates would be forthcoming.