Archive: Detroit Zoological Society Celebrates National Bison Day November 3

Detroit Zoo event focuses on the U.S. national mammal

October 29, 2018

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) is celebrating National Bison Day at the Detroit Zoo on Saturday, November 3, with zookeeper talks and fun learning activities.

Zookeeper talks are scheduled for 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the bison habitat, home to 11-year old male, Takoda, and 11-year old female, Teetonka. Guests will have the opportunity to learn how much food a bison eats in a day and how their diet changes with the seasons, as well as investigate tactile elements including fur and footprints. Information will also be shared about the history of bison as a conservation success story.

In the 19th century, North American settlers killed more than 50 million bison, and the herds were reduced to only a few hundred. The only remaining bison were living in a zoo and formed the basis for a new and protected population. Today, their numbers have rebounded to about 500,000 in the wild.

“Bison all but disappeared from this country’s landscape at one time and were brought back from the brink of extinction,” said Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer. “The rescue of bison by the zoological community is one of America’s first conservation success stories.”

The bison (Bison bison) is North America’s heaviest land animal, weighing between 900 and 2,100 pounds and reaching up to 6 feet tall. The bovine mammal has a shaggy, dark-brown coat and a large head and forequarters. Both males and females have short, curved horns they use for fighting for status and defense. Even with their hefty bodies, bison are able to run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and are strong swimmers.

The National Bison Legacy Act, signed into law in May 2016, officially declared the North American bison the U.S. national mammal.