Government officials, who thought cows were doing great, expressed surprise that the population had suddenly plunged to zero.

WASHINGTON—In a deeply disturbing finding that has sent shockwaves throughout the nation and the world, officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Thursday that cows have gone extinct.

After fielding numerous questions from the public about where all the cows had gone, the federal agency reportedly conducted an in-depth survey of dairy farms, cattle ranches, and open pasture land across six continents, eventually concluding that not a single member of the domesticated ungulate species remains anywhere on the planet.

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“There are no more cows,” Fish and Wildlife Service acting director Greg Sheehan said of the livestock animals whose unexpected extinction has wiped out entire swaths of the world economy—from the beef and dairy industry to manufacturers of leather goods—leaving tens of millions of workers without jobs. “We just sort of assumed the world had plenty of cows, and if you had asked me even a couple months ago how the cows were doing, I would have said they were doing great and not given it a second thought.”

“We didn’t even notice the cows were going extinct, and now they’re gone forever,” he added.

Sheehan told reporters that late last year, his office began to receive a series of seemingly unconnected reports regarding under-grazed pastures in the western United States, plummeting levels of cheese production, and an uptick in the price of men’s belts. Then one day, he said, a coworker entered his office and said, “Hey, Greg, have you seen any cows lately?” and, upon realizing he had not, the pieces all began to fall into place.

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According to government officials, a global count of the bovine population was soon initiated, and investigators were surprised to discover the total number of cows, which until recently had stood at approximately 1.4 billion, had plunged to zero.

“I was really surprised that nobody had cows anymore, because normally you see cows all over the place, especially when you drive through the country,” said Margaret Hartwell, the Fish and Wildlife researcher who spearheaded the counting of cattle in Nebraska where she saw assembly lines at meat processing plants grind to a halt upon suddenly running out of cows. “Usually, when animals become endangered, we try to save them, but this just came out of nowhere. There were lots and lots of cows and then before we knew what had happened, there were no cows at all.”

“This is pretty bad, because we use cows for a lot of stuff,” she continued. “We really should have been more on top of this.”

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Cow extinction is expected to cost the world economy trillions of dollars, with many well-known companies such as McDonald’s, Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, and Land O’Lakes Butter having already declared bankruptcy. Repercussions have reportedly been widespread as households stockpile hundreds of pints of ice cream, used leather sofas sell for more than $5 million on eBay, fashion labels scramble to design top-grain chicken-hide jackets for their fall collections, and cattle futures trade at all-time lows.

Because the extinction was unforeseen and laboratories kept no quality samples of cow DNA, cloning the animals is believed to be impossible, though a team of scientists in Zurich recently announced they had manipulated genetic codes to grow a milkless bovine udder on the back of a mouse. According to top biologists, a child born today will likely grow up only knowing cows from books, photographs, and reconstructions of Bos taurus skeletons in museum exhibits.

Across the country, Americans have expressed shock and frustration over the sudden extinction of cows.

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“The other day, I went to a restaurant to get a hamburger, and when I ordered a hamburger, the lady behind the counter told me they don’t have hamburgers, not anymore,” said Burlington, IA resident Chuck Willard. “I miss the cows. I like cheese and meat and milk. And I don’t want to drink goat’s milk.”

“Although, come to think of it, I haven’t seen any goats in a while, either,” he added.