Around the 17th century the aurochs became extinct. In the ‘20s of last century the German brothers Heck started backcrossing this animal from domestic breeds. Therefore many animals were used, which were still widely available within Europe. Among them were Spanish and Hungarian varieties, Camarque and Scottish Highland cattle.
During the second world war many of these animals were butchered. Only 39 survived. All of today’s Heck cattle decent from these animals. Large groups can be found in the Dutch Oostvaarderplassen, Hellegatsplaten and Slikken van Flakkee. Other herds have been transported towards Belgium and Latvia were they are better know as aurox. FREE Nature only has a small herd living in the Kempen~Broek. One misconception about these animals is their attitude towards humans. One of the breeds used by the brothers Hack are the Spanish fighting bulls and as a consequence people tend to see them as aggressive animals. Although their flight distance is somewhat larger compared to other breeds, they seem to do well in areas open to the general public.
Heck cattle exhibits a strong herd instinct, is a clever animal and stands high on its legs. The animals are very well adapted to living in nature where they are relatively shy and flee confronted with man.