European Bison

New Forest Wildlife Park 2023 84

General information

Bison are thickset with a pronounced shoulder hump, a short neck with a dark to golden brown coat. Both the males and females will have curved horns. Bison being herbivores feed mainly on grasslands and will browse on shoots and leaves. An adult male can consume up to 32 kg of food in a day, while a female can consume up to 23 kg. Being herd animals, Bison will live in mixed or solely male groups of around 8 - 13 individuals. The males join the females during rutting season, from August to October, during this time the males will compete to mate with the receptive females. 

Sadly, although once they were our largest native land mammal, the Bison were hunted to extinction in Europe with the last remaining wild bison being shot in 1927. They are now being reintroduced into many European countries through a successful captive-breeding programme.

New Forest Wildlife Park 2023 85

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

Average Lifespan

15 years in the wild. 20 - 30 years in captivity


Habitat loss, hybridisation and low genetic diversity.

Fun Fact

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

Our Residents

We have two adult males here at the park; Heimdall, who arrived from Knowsley Park in February 2020 and Leszek, our first Bison male to join us back in June 2011 from Fota park.

Our previous female Iwona arrived pregnant and we welcomed our first Bison calf on 11th May 2020, a boy called Vlad who is very naughty!

NFWP Lowerres 07945

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