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Syracuse zoo welcomes birth of bison calf

By Eric Reinhardt


Bison calf Madison lays on the ground next to mother bison Sue at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo after Madison’s birth on Thursday. (Photo credit: Maria Simmons, director of marketing at Rosamond Gifford Zoo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Rosamond Gifford Zoo on Thursday welcomed a baby bison.

The mother bison, Sue, went into labor around 11 a.m. and the baby was born at about noon, the office of Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II announced.

The calf is named Madison as part of the zoo’s “I Love New York” theme of naming new arrivals after New York cities and towns. Animal-care staff members are not yet sure of the baby’s gender, according to a county news release.

The calf is the second bison baby to be born at the zoo to Sue and male buffalo Harley. Sue had their first calf, Abigail, in 2017.

With several school field trips visiting the zoo Thursday, a small crowd gathered at the bison exhibit as onlookers realized an animal was giving birth. Zookeepers stood by observing from several vantage points, while a couple of keepers answered visitors’ questions.

The birth represents “another achievement” for the zoo, McMahon said in the news release.

“Our zoo is doing great things to help save endangered species, and this bison calf is one more success story,” McMahon said in the release. “My congratulations go out to zoo leadership, the animal care staff and the Cornell University Veterinary team that assists in medical care at the zoo.”

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo participates in several species survival plans for breeding endangered animals in human care through the Silver Spring, Maryland–based Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). It is one of 233 institutions accredited by AZA, which requires its members to meet the highest standards of animal care, wildlife conservation, education and guest experience.

About bison

American bison once numbered in the millions, but bison came close to extinction by 1900, when only about 1,000 remained. Conservation efforts led by the Bronx Zoo have restored the population to about 500,000 bison in zoos, preserves, and protected parklands, per the release.

President Barack Obama on May 9, 2016 signed a law designating the American bison as the U.S. national mammal.

“With this second bison birth, we are doing our part to contribute to the health of this species,” Rosamond Gifford Zoo Director Ted Fox said in the release. “It is a great experience to participate in the conservation of this iconic animal.”

Several visitors referred to the bison as “buffalo,” but only bison are native to North and South America as well as Europe. Many people confuse the two species of hoofed mammal, but buffalo only reside in Africa and Asia, Fox noted.

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