CORVALLIS, Ore. - A "fistulated" cow that has been part of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University nearly as long as the college itself died last week.

Beatrice, an estimated 21 years of age, was an invaluable partner in the education of OSU veterinary students and visitors to the college. Her abdomen was fitted with a small plastic device call a "cannula," through which researchers and students could directly observe the digestive process.

She also was the college's resident donor to cows and camelids at the Lois Bates Acheson Teaching Hospital of rumen fluid. This digestive fluid contains numerous bacteria that aid in digestion and promote the absorption of nutrients into the animal. Several of the hospital's clients also purchased this "liquid gold" to help save their animals at home, said Betsy Snyder, a technician with the large animal program in OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine.

"B-Cow, as she was known, had quite a personality in her younger days," Snyder said. "She even made it into a couple of faculty offices on occasion, put in an appearance or two at holiday parties and there wasn't a gate on the grounds she couldn't open if it wasn't safely secured.

"But she was more than just a character; she played an important role in introducing our first-year students to bovine medicine and she was a hit with younger kids while helping out with Pet Day or the Adventures in Learning classes," Snyder added. "We'll miss her in both a personal and educational sense, but we hope she's in cow heaven, where the grain never runs out and there's always someone to scratch her chin."

Beatrice was donated to the college in the 1990s by Willaval Dairy. The fistulation process has become an invaluable teaching and research tool and not only causes no harm, pain or discomfort to animals - it may actually extend their lives, research has shown.

OSU faculty, staff and students are donating money toward a small memorial for Beatrice - a paver stone that will be placed in front of the college.

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Betsy Snyder, 541-737-2858