Priceless Penny

Priceless Penny

Beloved cow undergoes successful surgery

By Sarah Carey
Penny the cow

Penny the cow

At the Living History Farm at Morningside Nature Center, Penny the cow is something of an icon. An integral part of the center’s farm programs, 11-year-old Penny helps children and other visitors learn how bovines were an indispensable part of a late 1800s Florida farm — from milk production to garden fertilizer.

The beloved bovine is no stranger to UF veterinarians, who have seen her many times over the years, said Myriam Jimenez, D.V.M., a resident with UF’s Food Animal Reproduction and Medicine Service, or FARMS.

“About a year ago, she was treated for mastitis on her right rear quarter, probably due to biting flies,” Jimenez said. “She received treatment, including a teat amputation for her mastitis, but unfortunately the problem worsened into an abscess within her udder.”

Jimenez said UF veterinarians tried to resolve Penny’s infection with a variety of treatments that were not successful.

Enter fourth-year veterinary student Carley Trcalek.


Penny the cow is shown in the UF Large Animal Hospital’s food animal barn prior to surgery. At left is senior veterinary student Carley Trcalek and at right is Dr. Myriam Jimenez, a FARMS resident.

“Carley came to FARMS for her last month of clinical rotations and met Penny,” Jimenez said. “At the time, we were discussing how we might proceed with an approach closer to surgery. Carley took it upon herself to take pictures, which she shared with Dr. David Freeman, chief of the UF large animal surgery service, as well as with our anesthesia team.”

Trcalek said she took an instant liking to Penny after first meeting her.

“She’s a very sweet cow with a lot of personality,” Trcalek said. “Another reason I became so involved was the staff at Morningside. They are so dedicated to Penny and that was really inspiring. Their dedication and Penny’s winning personality really motivated me to help her as much as I could.”

After meeting Penny and realizing surgery was being considered, Trcalek consulted with various team members in surgery and anesthesia to get their opinions as to how well this option might work.

The UF team came up with a solid surgical and anesthesia plan and a cost proposal, which was then proposed to the Morningside staff. Morningside agreed to move forward and Penny was scheduled for her much-needed surgery on May 8.

The procedure, which took about two hours, was conducted by Valeria Albanese, D.V.M., a UF large animal surgeon.

Penny was able to go home May 10 and is now receiving antibiotic treatment. Thankfully, the beloved bovine is back on duty, eating apples and teaching children about farm life.