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Bison born at Brit Spaugh Zoo
new slt baby bisonII
A bison is shown with its calf, Wednesday afternoon at Brit Spaugh Zoo in Great Bend. The baby was born around 4:15 p.m., and this photo was taken a short time later. - photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Bison or buffalo?


Huge herds of American bison once roamed the open plains of North America. But early settlers of the West referred to them as buffalo, and somehow that name stuck. These days either term is considered correct when referring to bison. However, there is no species named "American buffalo."

Source: San Diego Zoo website


When the bison at Great Bend’s Brit Spaugh Zoo started giving birth Wednesday afternoon, Zoo Director Scott Gregory was apprehensive. The animal affectionately known as "Buffy" has had two miscarriages in recent years, only with one successful pregnancy.

Dr. Mike Malone, veterinarian to the zoo, was called, and a healthy baby was born around 4:15 p.m.

"Bison have the same gestation as a human, about nine months," Gregory said. "That means they mated in February, which is really unusual." Usually bison breed from July through September, so their babies will be born in the spring and have a better chance for survival.

Dr. Malone said the baby wasn’t premature and the mother had a full milk sac. She was being protective and stayed in the shelter with the newborn Wednesday afternoon.

The last baby born to this animal was given to the Sedgwick County Zoo. Gregory said the new animal will also need to find a new home, eventually, but for now it provides one more attraction for those who visit the zoo.

Brit Spaugh Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.