How's this for a Mother's Day surprise? Six bison calves have been born at the Bronx Zoo and four are now on exhibit.
The calves were born to a herd of seven females and one male that arrived at the zoo from Ft. Peck, Montana, in November 2016. The female bison were already pregnant when they arrived at the zoo and the calves were born in late April.
The herd was an historic gift from the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes and was significant because the Fort Peck bison are from the Yellowstone National Park bloodline, and are among the few pure bison remaining.
The vast majority of present-day bison have trace amounts of domestic cattle genes, a reflection of past interbreeding efforts when western ranchers tried to create a hardier breed of cattle.
The Bronx Zoo has a long history of facilitating bison conservation projects in the western U.S., and the birth of these calves provides a welcome boost to the zoo's ongoing efforts to establish a herd of pure bison.