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American Bison

American Bison

Common Name:
American Bison
Scientific Name:
Bison bison
Gestation Period:
270 days
  • Grassland
5.5 ft
9 ft
Life Span:
15 yrs
Number of Young:
1,000 lb

Did you know that bison in the winter use their heads as plows to move snow in search of plants? Learn more about American bison.

Care & Wellness:

The 13-acre Prairie habitat allows the American bison abundant space to roam and graze on the grass. The bison, our national mammal, can also interact with the elk herd on the habitat as they might in the wild.

  • Females tend to live in large herds with their offspring while males live alone or in small, bachelor herds.
  • Although very large, bison can run at speeds up to 40 MPH.
  • In the winter, they use their heads as plows to move snow in search of plants.
Endangered Status
  • Extinct in Wild (EW)
  • Critically Endangered (CR)
  • Endangered (EN)
  • Vulnerable (VU)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Not Evaluated (NE)

Bison and buffalo are very different!

The great prairies of the American Midwest were once home to gigantic herds of bison. At the North Carolina Zoo, experience our short-grass prairie complete with a herd of bison and elk that can be viewed from four overlooks.

Fun Facts:
  • Bison are somewhat crepuscular, resting during the heat of the day.
  • Females are smaller than the males.
  • Individual groups will come together during breeding season to form very large herds.
  • They are considered a, "conservation dependent" species.
  • Bison and buffalo are very different!
An American bison standing in the sun.