Slideshow: A Historic Journey for Bison, 100 Years Later

November 25, 2013

This Thanksgiving marked the 100-year-anniversary of one of the greatest milestones in the modern conservation movement: the transfer of 14 bison from the Bronx Zoo to Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota.

This year, we honor an animal we brought back from the brink, 100 years ago. On November 24th, 1913, the American Bison Society (ABS) transferred 14 bison from the Bronx Zoo in New York to Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Completed four days later on November 28th, it was a key event in efforts to save the species from extinction.

Some 200 years ago, bison roamed the grasslands and shrub steppes of the American West in the tens of millions, but by the early 1900s, fewer than 1,100 of the animals remained. With Theodore Roosevelt as its honorary president, the ABS set out to preserve and increase bison populations in the United States. In order to do so, the society established a number of small herds in widely separated parts of the country.

Today, Wind Cave’s bison herd numbers around 450 animals. The park began shipping surplus animals to a variety of agencies, nonprofits and tribes throughout the country in 1987; and in 2009, it expanded its reach, shipping 23 bison to Mexico. The 1913 transfer is an important bookmark in the success story of bison, and serves as an inspiration for modern-day conservation efforts.

Read John Calvelli's blog on Nat Geo NewsWatch >>

Read the press release >>
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