Common Name: Bison
Scientific Name: Bison bison
At the zoo: Ciri (female, 5y) and Rikka (female, 5y)
In the wild, Bison will graze on plains grasses, herbs, shrubs and twigs.
Conservation Status: Near threatened
Bison have many cow-like features and are the heaviest land mammal in North America. They can weigh from 300 - 900 kg and have very sharp, curved horns that can grow up to half a meter long. They have a well-insulated, shaggy coat that prevents snow from melting on their backs. To confuse predators, bison calves are born away from the herd and are protected from danger by the mother. They are able to stand and walk within hours of being born and are cared for by their mother for up to one year.
American bison once covered the Great Plains of central North America and were critically important to First Peoples. Their population was decimated by over-hunting in the 19th Century and has since partially recovered but is highly dependent on conservation efforts to sustain itself.
Did you know that the term "Buffalo" is often used to describe Bison, although this is incorrect! There are two species of Buffalo that only live in Africa: The Water Buffalo and the African Buffalo.