European Bison or Wisent

Latin Name Bison bonusus bonasus
Class Mammalia
Order Cetartiodactyla
Family Bovidae
IUCN status Vulnerable
Habitat Deciduous and mixed forests and adjacent meadows
Distribution Historically all lowland areas of Europe

General Information

Sadly, hunted to extinction in Europe with the last remaining wild bison being shot in 1927. They are now being re-introduced into many European countries through a successful captive-breeding programme.

Bison feed mainly on grasslands and will browse on shoots and leaves. The rutting season is from August to October with the cows giving birth to one calf 264 days later.

Fun Fact

European bison are surprisingly agile and can clear 3m wide streams or 2m high fences from a standing start

Keeper Notes

Leszek, born in 2007 at Fota Park, in Ireland, joined us in June 2011, as one of our first Bison males here. We are now part of the European Captive Breeding Programme as two females, Iwona and Pola, also from Fota Park, joined us in the autumn of 2019.

Iwona arrived pregnant and we welcomed our first Bison calf on 11th May 2020 - a boy called Vlad!

Update: our new breeding male arrived from Knowsley Park in February 2020, called Heimdall. Heimdall was born at Barcelona Zoo in 2010.