WCS supports legislation to make bison the national mammal

Flushing, N.Y. – July 25, 2014 –
The herd of American bison (Bison bison) at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Queens Zoo just got bigger with the addition of three new females from the Bronx Zoo.

Including the new additions, the Queens Zoo is home to seven bison. They share a prairie exhibit with pronghorn, an antelope-like species that is also native to North America.

Bison are large, majestic mammals that live in large herds on prairies. They have long shaggy brown coats in the winter that are shed in the spring and summer. The iconic horns are characteristic of both males and females.

WCS’s bison legacy dates back to the turn of the 20th century. In the early 1900’s, plains bison numbered less than 1,100 individuals after having ranged across North America in the tens of millions a century earlier. In 1905, William Hornaday, the first director of the Bronx Zoo, President Theodore Roosevelt, and others convened a group of diverse stakeholders at the Bronx Zoo to form the American Bison Society with the goal of saving the bison from extinction. In 1907 and 1913, the Bronx Zoo sent two herds of Bronx-born bison west to re-establish the species in the wild.

Bison, which today number in the hundreds of thousands, remain a unique icon of North American culture and natural history. However, the bison’s important ecological role in its former landscapes has not been restored, and the vast majority of bison occur in commercial herds. Bison are a keystone species that influence plant and animal communities where they range. Plant diversity is greater in areas where bison graze, which also helps to support increased populations and diversity of birds and other mammal species in the same habitats.

WCS has set up a multi-stakeholder, transboundary initiative with the objective of working with partners to achieve the ecological restoration of bison across its range in North America.

Along with the National Bison Association and Inter Tribal Buffalo Council, WCS is a steering member of the Vote Bison coalition, which seeks to celebrate the historical, cultural, economic and ecological contributions of bison. The coalition is working with Congressional champions to pass legislation that would make bison the National Mammal of the United States and celebrate the first Saturday of each November as National Bison Day. The Vote Bison coalition invites the public to express their support at www.votebison.org.For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Barbara Russo at 718-265-3428 or email brusso@wcs.org.

Barbara Russo: 718-265-3428; brusso@wcs.org
Max Pulsinelli - 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; sfairchild@wcs.org
The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo – Open every day of the year. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 65 and older, $5 for kids 3-12, free for children under 3. Zoo hours are 10am to 5pm weekdays, and 10am – 5:30pm weekends, April through October, and 10am – 4:30pm daily, November through April. The Queens Zoo is located at 53-51 111th Street in Flushing Meadow’s Corona Park in Queens. For further information, call 718-271-1500 or visit www.queenszoo.com.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to www.wcs.org .