Minnesota Zoo Media Contact
If you are a member of the press, please contact: Kelly Lessard
Public Relations Manager
13000 Zoo Boulevard
Apple Valley, MN 55124
Apple Valley, MINN – May 10, 2016 – The Minnesota Zoo is excited to announce the birth of a bison calf, its first in 2016. The birth is especially exciting for the Zoo, as bison were recently named the first national mammal of the United States after President Obama signed into law the National Bison Legacy Act.
The Minnesota Zoo’s calf, born April 30 and thought to be a male, is the 43rd bison born at the Zoo since it opened in 1978 (the first birth was in 1981). The herd of nine, which is expecting more calves this year, can be found on the Northern Trail.
In 2012, The Minnesota Zoo and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) entered into an agreement to work together to preserve the American bison – and in 2015, 11 genetically-rare bison were released into Minneopa State Park near Mankato as part of a mutual effort to expand the Minnesota conservation herd from 90 to 500 animals occupying several locations. Minneopa State Park was the first of these additional locations welcoming bison.
Massive and thick-coated, bison were once the icons of North America’s Great Plains – the largest land animals on the continent. They were also once the most abundant, with an estimated 30 to 60 million before European settlement. Populations in Minnesota are unknown, but reports from the 1700-1800s suggest they were numerous. During the late 19th century, bison were hunted to near extinction until less than 1,000 animals remained in the United States. The last wild bison observed in Minnesota was in Norman County in 1880.
Bison eat mainly grasses and sedges—roughly 15 pounds per animal per day. Bison roam wide-open prairies; the plants provide food for bison, and the bison’s grazing, trampling, and defecating helping keep the prairie ecosystem healthy. Bison spend their mornings eating and their afternoons chewing cud. Their thick fur helps them survive the bone-chilling cold of prairie winters.
Did you Know?
- Bison grunt periodically to communicate and keep contact with the rest of the herd. They bellow aggressively when challenging another animal.
- In winter, bison clear snow from their grazing area by sweeping their massive heads from side to side.
- Wolves and grizzly bears are natural predators of bison.
The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. Its mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).