Millions of bison once thundered across America. Today, approximately 500,000 bison live across North America. Bison are large, even-toed ungulates in the genus Bison within the subfamily Bovinae.
Currently there are only 2 species of Bison; however, there are 4 species that are extinct. The 2 existing species are the American bison, B. bison, found only in North America, and often referred as a "buffalo" and B. bonasus, or Wisent, is found in Europe and the Caucasus.
Beefalo, also referred to as cattalo, are a fertile hybrid offspring of domestic cattle and the American bison. They were created to combine the characteristics of both animals for beef production.
Beefalo are primarily cattle in genetics and appearance, with the breed association defining a full Beefalo as one with three-eighths bison genetics, while animals with higher percentages of bison genetics are called "bison hybrids".
At one time, at least 25 million American bison were spread
across the United States and Canada. However, by the late 1880s, the total
number of bison in the United States had been reduced to fewer than 600
individuals. Most of these were collected onto various private ranches, and the
last known free-roaming population of bison consisted of less than 30 in the
area which later became Yellowstone National Park.
Plains bison have since been reintroduced into a number of
locations around North America. Five main foundation herds
Wisent, or European bison is
a Eurasian species of bison. It is one of two extant species of bison,
alongside the American bison. In the past, especially during the Middle Ages,
it was commonly killed for its hide, and to produce drinking horns.
Three subspecies existed in
the recent past, but only one survives today. The Bialowieza or lowland European
bison was kept alive in captivity, and has since been reintroduced into several
countries in Europe. They are now forest-dwelling.
In 1996, the International Union for
Wood Bison (also known as mountain bison), are the largest
terrestrial animal in North America. Their original range included much of the
boreal forest regions of Alaska, Yukon, western Northwest Territories,
northeastern British Columbia, northern Alberta, and northwestern Saskatchewan.
Wood Bison are heavier than Plains Bison and they have
larger horn cores, darker and woollier pelages, and less hair on their forelegs
In addition to the loss of habitat and hunting, wood bison
populations have also been
Zubron is a hybrid of domestic cattle and wisent. The
wisent is the European bison; hence, the zubron is analogous to the American
beefalo. The name zubron was officially chosen from hundreds of proposals sent
to the Polish weekly magazine Przekroj during a contest organized in 1969.
Zubron were first developed by Leopold Walicki in 1847,
although the hybrid may also have appeared at an earlier time. After World War
I, various scientists considered Zubron a possible replacement for domestic
cattle. Zubron turned out to be more