Ricardo, the bull that famously ran to freedom along the tracks at Newark Penn Station, is finally returning to his new rural retreat in Sussex County.
The resilient bull battled back from a potentially deadly infection and will soon be released from an animal hospital in New York after six weeks of treatment, according to Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue in Wantage.
“We will be bringing our handsome boy home this week. We can’t wait to have him back here at Skylands, where he belongs,” the animal sanctuary posted to Facebook on Wednesday evening.
The animal sanctuary is asking fans to sign a digital card reading “Welcome home, Ricardo,” adorned with a photo of the bull.
It is also establishing “The Ricardo Club,” which members can join for $12.14 per month — in honor of his Dec. 14 escape — to “ensure Ricardo’s story is one of lasting safety and health.”
Ricardo became a social media sensation when police struggled to capture the bull Dec. 14 as he ran along the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail passenger line, delaying NJ Transit and Amtrak trains. He was finally captured three miles from Newark Penn Station.
Skylands Animal Sanctuary, a 232-acre farm, took in Ricardo — who likely escaped from one of several slaughterhouses in Newark — shortly after he was corralled.
NJ Transit quickly embraced the bull’s improbable fame, producing a $20 stuffed animal modeled after Ricardo and promising to donate a portion of the proceeds to the animal sanctuary.
However, the upbeat outcome nearly took a tragic twist.
Ricardo arrived with a half dollar-sized road rash wound on his leg, the group said previously. It’s unclear if he got the wound during his run through Newark.
He was initially treated with antibiotics before taken on a trailer on Christmas Eve to Cornell University Nemo Farm Animal Hospital in Ithaca, New York. The bull was initially sedated, then his wound was cleaned and he was given many x-rays and ultrasounds during his treatment at the hospital.
The sanctuary has not said what it paid to put the bull in an animal hospital for six weeks.
Now, he’s coming home, at long last.
Mike Stura, the sanctuary’s owner, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Stura said last week he had not yet received any money from NJ Transit. The transit agency said the Ricardo stuffed animal is sold out and it is no longer selling the plush toy.
NJ Transit is still finalizing the total sales numbers and will announce the amount of the donation in the coming weeks, an agency spokesperson said last week.
“Regarding future sales, we considered Ricardo a limited-time promotion. Ricardo may return to the TransitShoppe in the future,” said NJ Transit spokesperson Kyalo Mulumba.
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Rob Jennings may be reached at [email protected].
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