“A unicorn is a mythical beast,” according to legendary author James Thurber. It’s a bit ironic that in his story, The Unicorn in the Garden, the police are called. And so was the California Highway Patrol on Wednesday night, when one hoofed, single-horned creature led them on a mad chase through the streets of Madera County, California. Perhaps spurred on by magical powers, but more likely by panic, the “mythical beast” managed to evade police for four exhausting hours.
The unicorn, named Juliet, was the special guest at a child’s birthday party when she decided she’d had enough of the festivities and made a run for it. The L.A. Times reported that Juliet was the subject of a photo shoot in Madera Ranchos when she escaped.
Juliet is actually a 600-pound white pony belonging to Fresno photographer Sandra Boos.
More than a mere prop, the 20-year-old Juliet is a much-loved friend of Boos’ daughter, 5-year-old Tatem. When Juliet first took off during the photo shoot around 2:30 p.m., Boos called the dispatcher and reported her missing. CHP spokesman Josh McConnell told the L.A. Times that the dispatcher thought the story was a little hard to believe.
“Initially he thought it might be somebody out there on drugs, seeing things. It was a little unreal to hear calls of a unicorn running around on the roadway.”
However, it didn’t take long for Boos to corral the wayward equine and get her back into modeling mode. But Juliet had made up her mind she just didn’t feel like posing today. Boos told KTUL how Juliet made her escape.
“She threw her head up, pulled the lead rope out of her hands and that was it, so at that point she ran off and the more we pursued her the further she ran.”
On her second escape, Juliet meant business. Around 5:30 p.m., she got loose again and headed toward Avenue 12, a busy section of road running between State Route 99 and State Route 41.
Disaster loomed. Boos made another 911 call, and this time the CHP became very concerned, McConnell said.
“It was a little more difficult to capture the pony-slash-unicorn.”
It was about 9:00 p.m. before they were able to catch Juliet. They searched for her using a helicopter and thermal imaging, and found her in an orchard. Once she was located, they used the old horseman’s trick to capture her. Renee Pardy saddled up her horse, Shady, and rode into the orchard. Using Shady, she was able to coax Juliet into a trailer. She explained to KTUL how the gregarious nature of horses worked to their advantage.
“They want to be in a group. They’re herd animals and so we had been chasing Juliet, the unicorn for so long that she was looking for a friend.”
Boos was listening to the police radio during the ordeal, and breathed a sigh of relief when she heard the words,
“The unicorn is in custody.”
She reported that there were a few tears, but also some laughter.
“It was the comedic relief needed in the moment.”
She said that she doesn’t often use Juliet as a unicorn in shoots, but when she does, “The little girls just love it.”
She dresses Juliet up in a pink halter with the horn attached, and a garland of flowers around her neck.
Having discovered the unique charm of animals in pictures, as in this Inquisitr article, Boos will keep using Juliet for photos.
“I’ll continue taking photos with the pony. But we’re going to decide exactly what we need to do to make sure we don’t have a repeat performance.”
The garland went missing during the chase.
Boos was not cited, L.A. Times reported, but McConnell said if it happens a third time, she will be. He added that the pony, even one her size, could have done some serious damage.
He said that there have been other animals loose in the roadway over the years, including chickens, sheep, cows, horses, and even an ostrich.
But this was their first call for “a mythical beast.”
[Image via Justin Perry/California Highway Patrol/APPhoto]