Toronto, Canada (August 3, 2022) – If you have visited Toronto Zoo’s Canadian Domain recently, you’ve probably noticed some very special additions – three wood bison calves! Born the week of June 20th, there are two females and one male. These three little calves are quickly becoming a visitor favourite as they follow the much larger adult females around the paddock, peeking out behind their mothers’ legs.
What makes these little ones extra special is the innovative reproductive techniques that enabled Toronto Zoo to deliberately produce females!
How can Toronto Zoo choose whether to have females or males?
The Bison herd at Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland, Nebraska grew this summer. A calf was born on May 27 and visitors can now see the auburn-colored calf roaming the ‘Bison Plains’ with mom and the herd.
Bison calves turn dark brown a few months after birth---the same time their characteristic hump and horns start to grow.
Photo Credits: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo/Wildlife Safari Park
Since its opening in 1998, Wildlife Safari Park has played a key role in conserving Bison and educating the public about the critical challenges impacting the native species—the national mammal of the United States. Wildlife Safari Park currently has 33 Bison, including the new calf.
Wildlife Safari Park offers four miles of drive-through North American wildlife viewing from the comfort of your own vehicle. Wildlife Safari Park visitors can see a variety of animals in their natural habitats, including more than 60 American Elk spread across the 50-acre Elk Meadow and a 10-acre wetlands area with American White Pelicans. Visitors can explore the newest exhibit, Prairie Dog Town, and see other animals, such as: White-tailed Deer, Trumpeter Swans, Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes (who came to Wildlife Safari Park this past April).
Visitors can take advantage of the nice weather and explore two miles of hiking trails, which pass Wolf Canyon, home to six grey wolves and three American black bears. At the Hands-on-Corral, kids of all ages can interact with their favorite farm animals, such as pygmy goats and chickens.
While zoo visitors watched in awe, an American Bison calf was born on exhibit at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. New mother, Sue, went into labor around 11 a.m. and the baby was born at 12:30 p.m. on May 9.
The calf is the second Bison baby to be born at the zoo to Sue and male, Harley. Sue had their first calf, Abigail, in 2017. The new calf has been named Madison as part of the zoo’s “I Love New York” theme of naming new arrivals after New York cities and towns. Animal care staff are not yet sure of the calf’s sex.
Photo Credits: Rosamond Gifford Zoo
American Bison once numbered in the millions, but they came close to extinction by 1900, when only about 1,000 remained. Conservation efforts led by the Bronx Zoo have restored the population to about 500,000 in zoos, preserves and protected parklands. In 2016, the American Bison was named the US National Mammal.
“With this second Bison birth, we are doing our part to contribute to the health of this species,” said Zoo Director, Ted Fox. “It is a great experience to participate in the conservation of this iconic animal.”
Onondaga County Executive, Ryan McMahon, said the birth represents another achievement for the zoo. “Our zoo is doing great things to help save endangered species, and this Bison calf is one more success story,” McMahon said. “My congratulations go out to zoo leadership, the animal care staff and the Cornell University Veterinary team that assists in medical care at the zoo.”
With several school field trips visiting the zoo on May 9, a small crowd gathered at the Bison exhibit as onlookers realized an animal was giving birth. Zookeepers stood by, observing from several vantage points, while a couple of keepers answered visitors’ questions.
Many visitors refer to the Bison as “buffalo,” but only Bison are native to North and South America as well as Europe. According to Ted Fox, many people confuse the two species of hoofed mammal, but Buffalo only reside in Africa and Asia.
For information on the zoo, visit www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org . For info on zoo events, visit www.syracusezooevents.org .
A rare White American Bison calf was born at the Belgrade Zoo on May 28. White Bison are estimated to occur in only one out of ten million births.
The calf, named Dusica, is the offspring of Jova, an 11-year-old white male, and Iva, a seven-year-old female with a typical brown coat.
Photo Credit: Zoran Rajic
White Bison occur naturally due to albinism, leucism, or other genetic conditions. Sometimes, a White Bison develops brown fur as it ages. Others remain white (or light tan) for their entire lives. White Bison can also result from cross-breeding with cattle.
Some American Indian tribes consider White Bison to be sacred as part of spiritual rituals.
American Bison are often referred to as “Buffalo,” but that term is misleading. Bison are quite different than true Buffalo species, such as the Asian Water Buffalo or the African Cape Buffalo. But early European settlers and explorers, upon seeing American Bison for the first time, thought the animals resembled Buffalo, and the name has been used ever since.
The Belgrade Zoo has a long history of breeding white animals, including Bengal Tigers, African Lions, Wallabies, Deer, Indian Peafowl, and various reptiles. Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is known as the “White City.”
American Bison can weigh up to a ton (2,000 pounds) and feed on grass and vegetation.
Before settlement of the American West, hundreds of millions of Bison roamed the North American plains. By the 1800s, Bison were nearly extinct due to overhunting, with only a few hundred animals surviving. Breeding programs and farming have increased the population to around 150,000, but Bison are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This status is due to the fact that most animals are maintained under conservation programs and only five viable populations exist in the wild. Herds are dependent on wide areas of protected land, including national parks and refuges.
The calves were born to a herd of seven females and one male that arrived at the Bronx Zoo from Ft. Peck, Montana in November 2016.
The herd was a historic gift from the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes. The Fort Peck Bison are from the Yellowstone National Park bloodline and are among the few pure Bison remaining. The vast majority of present-day Bison, or Buffalo, have trace amounts of domestic cattle genes, a reflection of past interbreeding efforts when western ranchers tried to create a hardier breed of cattle. (More information about the historic gift and transfer can be found at the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2qTVHvF ).
The female Bison were pregnant when they arrived at the Zoo, and the calves were born in late April. “These calves will bolster our efforts to expand our breeding program of pure Bison,” said Dr. Pat Thomas, WCS Vice President/General Curator and Associate Director of the Bronx Zoo. “They will eventually be bred with other pure Bison to create new breeding herds in other AZA-accredited zoos, and to provide animals for restoration programs in the American West.”
Photo Credits: WCS/ Julie Larsen Maher
The Bronx Zoo has a long history of facilitating Bison conservation projects in the western U.S., and the birth of these calves provides a welcome boost to the Zoo’s ongoing efforts to establish a herd of pure Bison.
For more than five years, the Bronx Zoo has worked on developing a herd of pure bloodline through embryo transfer. The Bison from Ft. Peck will supplement those efforts. The bull, currently on exhibit with the females and calves, was the first American Bison born as a result of embryo transfer in 2012. (More information about the Bronx Zoo’s efforts to breed bison through embryo transfer can be found on the WCS Newsroom: http://bit.ly/2q6kji7 ).
The American Bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the “American Buffalo” or simply “Buffalo”, is a species that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds. They became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle.
However, the Bison is now an American conservation success story. In the early 1900’s, the species was on the verge of extinction: numbering fewer than 1,100 individuals, after roaming North America in the tens of millions only a century earlier. In 1907 and 1913, the Bronx Zoo sent herds of Bronx-bred Bison out west to re-establish the species in its native habitat.
Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.
Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!
The last wild European Bison was shot in 1927, but the species has made a comeback thanks to breeding programs like one at Poland’s Zoo Wroclaw, where a male calf was born on September 19.
Keepers named the new calf Powolniak, which translates as “the slow one,” reflecting his relaxed personality. The calf’s name needed to start with “PO” because he was born in Poland, according to naming rules dictated by the European Bison Pedigree Book, which tracks the parentage of each animal to maintain the highest possible level of genetic diversity in the population.
Photo Credit: Zoo Wroclaw
Despite their massive size – males can weigh more than one ton and stand six feet tall at the shoulders – keepers at Zoo Wroclaw say that their Bison herd is calm in nature.
Three subspecies of European Bison, Europe’s largest wild mammal, once roamed the entire European continent. One by one, they each became extinct in the wild until in the 1920s, only 12 European Bison and seven Lowland Bison remained in some European zoos.
After World War II, zoos began to cooperate to save the European Bison and Poland became the center of the breeding efforts. Today, more than 5,000 European Bison live in zoos and wild areas in Europe, with a high concentration in Poland. Once listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the European Bison is now listed as Vulnerable.
Two baby European Bison born at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park may one day roam eastern Europe’s natural areas as part of a program to reestablish the species, which became extinct in the wild in 1927.
The calves, one male and one female, were born at the drive-through reserve on May 13 to two different mothers. The births are part of an international program, led by Highland Wildlife Park, to manage the zoo-dwelling Bison population and help increase the wild herds.
Photo Credit: Highland Wildlife Park
European Bison are similar to American Bison and once roamed most of eastern, central, and western Europe. By 1927, there were no European Bison remaining in the wild, but 54 animals were living in zoos.
Since then, the European Bison has become a conservation success story. Through managed breeding, genetic diversity has been maximized and animals have been transported from zoos to wilderness areas in eastern Europe. Bison born at Highland Wildlife Park have been translocated in the past, and a large group is set to move to Romania later this year.
When these two calves are old enough, they may join their herdmates in the wilds of eastern Europe.
It is not exactly the sound of a stampede but more like the pitter-patter of little hooves that guests can hear at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness exhibit with the addition of a Bison calf born on May 16. The female calf marks the first birth of this species at Brookfield Zoo since the early 1970s.
The birth is a welcome addition for mom Leotie, age 3, and father Ron, age 12, considering the species was slaughtered to near extinction in the late 1800s. Bison were hunted for their meat and bones but primarily for their hides, which were made into clothing, machine belts, and rugs. Historically, tens of millions of bison traveled hundreds of miles over the same route through the Great Plains, shaping the land and enriching the soil. Remnants of their deeply worn paths are still visible. But by the end of the 19th century, bison populations were eliminated over 98 percent of their range in the lower 48 states, resulting in fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining.
Calves are usually born in late spring and weigh 40 to 70 pounds at birth. Their coat is reddish at first, and darkens over a period of about 15 weeks. They are able to stand within half an hour of being born and can run after a few hours. Calves begin grazing when they are just shy of a week old but continue to nurse for several months.
Photo Credit: Brookfield Zoo
Read about this bison's conservation success story after the jump: