A yak named Meteor that gained internet acclaim after escaping its owner en route to a butcher earlier this month in Central Virginia has died after being struck by a vehicle, authorities said Friday.
On Sept. 10, Meteor's owner told Nelson County animal control officials the yak kicked off the back door of a livestock trailer at a stop sign in Lovingston.
Despite the efforts of law enforcement, Meteor remained on the loose until Friday, when his owner, Robert Cissell, received a call that Meteor was struck by a vehicle on U.S. 29, according to a statement Cissell posted to social media. The animal was severely injured and died at the scene.
"Our greatest fears all along have revolved around his proximity to a major highway," the statement said. "We have spent untold hours searching the fields, forests, and mountains around the county, assisted by local authorities, veterinarians, and other community members, who gave their time and energy to try and help us bring Meteor home safely."
Meteor was "laid to rest in a private location," the statement said, and "his spirit is now free and has taken flight."
Details about the collision and the driver's condition were not immediately known.
The Nelson County Farm Bureau also paid tribute to Meteor in a social media post. The animal had been photographed behind the office of the nonprofit agricultural advocacy organization early in its run for freedom.
"So very sad to share the news that Meteor, the elusive, escaped yak, tragically met his end this morning after being hit along US29 in Nelson County," the post read. "Meteor's recent freedom excursion made local, national & worldwide headlines and forever earned him a place in our hearts. Roam free, Meteor!"
Laura Cooper, a member service specialist with the Farm Bureau, said her colleagues were saddened to learn of his death.
"Our community had grown so invested in the story of the escaped yak and hoped for a very different ending," she wrote in an email.