By Tom Hacker
It is safe to say that Ben is the last miniature panda cow born anywhere in 2010.
In fact, he has few peers, being a calf and one of only 24 of the scarce breed in the world.
At just after 8 a.m. Friday, on a farm east of Campion, Ben entered the world after mother Bella, a lowline Angus cow, spent a zero-degree night in labor in her stall.
Two hours later, still wet and shivering, the tiny calf snuggled against his diminutive mother.
“We’ll get him bundled up pretty soon,” said Chris Jessen, who has miniature donkeys, other miniature cattle breeds and even a wallaby — a miniature kangaroo — on his hobby farm.
“We’ve got a regular petting zoo, here,” wife Pam Jessen said.
It could have been even more so, with the Jessens having explored the idea of raising reindeer, and even camels, on their acreage.
Ben’s namesake is Chris Jessen’s brother, also born on New Year’s Eve.
“He was the first person I called this morning,” he said.
The miniature panda cow is the result of 44 years of genetic manipulation by Richard Gradwohl, a farmer in Covington, Wash., about 20 miles southeast of Seattle.
A white belt encircling the animal’s midsection, and the white face with black ovals around the eyes, give the cow an appearance that is very much panda-like.
“We had a Chinese delegation visit our farm, and they were fascinated,” Gradwohl said in a telephone interview Friday. “They want them in China, so we’re going to be exporting.”