American bison

American bison Bison bison

ClassMammalia
OrderArtiodactyla
FamilyBovidae
Size1.6m
Weightup to 900kg
Gestation9 months
Birth1
Life-span15–20 years
Diet
herbivorous

Habitat
grassy prairies

Range
western USA and western Canada


No animal symbolises the American West like bisons do, yet they almost died out in the 19th century after being hunted for their meat and to deprive Native Americans of their major means of subsistence.
 
They may look docile but bisons are unpredictable: they can charge without warning or any discernible reason at more than 50km/h. They have weak eyesight but their hearing and sense of smell are both highly developed.
 
There are two kinds: the American bison and the European bison. The latter was also decimated – at the beginning of the 20th century the only surviving specimens were in zoos. Thanks to conservation efforts, the American bison population is now around 30,000. European bisons number 1,800, plus 1,400 specimens bred in zoos.




Status in the wild (Source: IUCN)

  • Not evaluated
    NE
  • Data deficient
    DD
  • Least concern
    LC
  • Near threatened
    NT
  • Vulnerable
    VU
  • Endangered
    EN
  •  Critically endangered
    CR
  • Extinct in the wild
    EW
  • Extinct
    EX

In the zoo