updated 6/5/2006 5:03:10 AM ET 2006-06-05T09:03:10

A cow being delivered to a Japanese slaughterhouse tried to bolt to freedom Sunday, leading nearly two dozen police on a 3.7-mile car chase through town and sending one man to the hospital unconscious.

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Security camera footage of the wild escape, aired by public broadcaster NHK, showed the frenzied 1,606-pound animal zigzagging across a parking lot and then darting down a street, hotly pursued by a stream of patrol cars.

"The cow was being delivered to the slaughterhouse, and it was startled by a loud sound and just ran off," said Masashi Kitabayashi, a police official in the central town of Yakkaichi, where the incident took place.

The 3-year-old cow eventually crashed headfirst into a metal fence, fell down and died, but not before attacking a rendering plant worker who was trying to recapture the animal, Kitabayashi said.

The chase occurred at 6:50 a.m., and the 56-year-old worker was still unconscious in the hospital by late afternoon.

Slaughterhouse workers took the cow's body away.

"I don't know whether it will be processed into meat or not," Kitabayashi said.

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