American Bison

Bison bison

Body Length:Males: 9'–12'; Females: 7'–8'
Tail Length:19.75–23.5"
Height:5–6' at the shoulder
Weight:Males: 2,000 lbs; Females:1,100 lbs
Geographic Distribution: National parks and refuges in the western United States
Habitat:Plains, open grasslands, prairies, river valleys, and coniferous forests
Wild Diet:Shrubs, twigs, and grasses
Zoo Diet:Herbivore grain pellets, grass, hay, carrots, and lettuce.
Status in the Wild:Near Threatened
Location:Great Bear Wilderness

American bison are sexually dimorphic (there are two distinct gender forms). The male bull is larger than the female cow and has a massive head and shoulders. Bison have long, shaggy, coarse hair on their head, shoulders, and front legs. The hair on the back half is significantly shorter, becomes thick in winter, and is shed in spring and summer. Their coloration is shades of reddish-brown to black. Newborn calves are bright reddish-brown. They develop a chocolate-brown to black coat during maturity. The coat fades to a lighter tan with age. The pelt often turns a light yellow-brown in spring. Both males and females have horns that are relatively short and thick at the base. The horns are hollow and permanent, and they taper and curve to a sharp point. Horns begin to grow at two months of age on both sexes; males horns are larger. Both sexes have a distinctive hump that makes raising their head above shoulder level impossible; calves have no hump.