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Bison have long, shaggy, brownish-black hair on their head, neck, shoulders, and forelegs. A beard hangs below their chins. The rest of the body is covered with short, lighter colored hair. A heavy head, short neck, and high humped shoulders give them a massive appearance. The tail is tufted. Horns, borne by both sexes, are short, upcurving, and sharp. The voice is a bellow.

Fifty million bison once once roamed in massive herds across most of North America. By 1889 only 541 bison remained due to hunting and indiscriminate slaughter. Luckily, at that time, interest was aroused to save and breed the few remaining bison. Even though they are now found only in protected herds on ranches, game preserves, and parks in the Western U.S. and Canada, they seem to be safe from extinction.

Learn how you can support the American Bison by making a donation through Friends of the National Zoo's ADOPT A SPECIES program!

American Bison by Jessie Cohen / NZP
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