What is the National Animal of USA?

What is the national animal of USA? What is the uniqueness of the national animal?

The national animal of the USA is the American Bison. It is the first national mammal that received the national animal status. Barack Obama, the President of the USA, declared the American Bison as the national animal in 2016

Bison is an American animal that reflects the resilience and strength of the USA. It combines the best qualities of other animals. It is strong like oak and fearless like the bald eagle.

In addition to being the national animal of America, the American Bison is the official symbol of some other states that include Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  

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Table of Contents

History of American Bison 

The American bison has a long and rich history that can be traced thousands of years ago. Their ancestors were involved with southern Asia and they made their way to the distant land of America by crossing the land bridge.

The ancient land bridge was the only way that connected North America and Asia 400,000 years back. The fearless attitude of bison made them a part of the American culture. The ancient bison were large and were much bigger than the current bison that holds the place of America’s national animal. 

The American bison eats weeds, leafy plants, and grasses. They search for their foods for nine to eleven hours a day and use their large protruding shoulder humps to search for food in winter that is the most difficult period for them. They do have a strength though, their shoulders enable them to swing their large heads and clear snow.  

Bison struggle hard in winter. The lack of food and the cold makes it difficult for them to survive especially when the animal is old or young. The injured and sick animals suffer even more during that period. The young ones are prone to death during cold months. If they survive to adulthood, they can live up to two decades.

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How big is the American bison?

Bison is known for its big size and frame. Even if they are big, they can run fast. They can run around forty miles per hour, they can jump high fences, they can spin around fast and they are strong swimmers as well.

American Bison is known for being the largest animal in North America. These animals were mostly found in deserts and coasts and have once dominated the United States’ grassland. When the explorers explored the land, there were around thirty million bison all over the Great Plains. Currently, there are more than 500,000 bison in North America.  

A male bison weighs around 2,000 pounds, and a female bison weighs half of its male counterparts. When the male is about six feet tall, the female bison’s height is four to five feet.

  • Bison have lived continuously in the United States’ Yellowstone National Park from prehistoric times
  • Baby bison or calves are called red dogs
  • Bison live up to two decades
  • The average lifespan is ten to twenty decades 

The female bison begins breeding at an early age around two, and she can have a baby once in a lifetime. Bison are known for their poor eyesight. They are nearsighted. However, their smelling and hearing abilities are excellent. Female bison and their calves communicate with pig-like grunts. 

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Bison are considered an inseparable part of the American culture. These animals were helping the Native Americans to get food, tools, fuel, and shelter. An internal Tribal Buffalo Council was established in 1992. It works to transfer these animals to tribal lands from national parks. 

Baby bison or calves are called red dogs. They got this name for their orange-red color. However, they transform to their parents’ color once they reach adulthood.

Breeding season

Bison like to live in groups. They travel in groups as well where they are mostly divided by sex. The female bison and their calves live in one herd, and the male bison live in another herd. However, the males go to the female herd during the summer.

In summer, the breeding season will start, and the males will join the female herd in the search for a mate. They communicate with each other through smelling and hearing. During the reproduction phase, they communicate through smell and pheromones. In addition to these, they can snort, growl, and grunt. 

While looking for mates, first, the dominant bison finds a female. Also, the bison defends the female bison against other bison males. The male bison fight against each other using their horns. They use their heads as well.

If the female bison agrees to mate, the pair mates many times. The female bison gets pregnant throughout the winter, fall, and even in early spring. The female bison take care of their calves for around a year.

  • The calves weigh about fifty pounds
  • They look great with their reddish fur
  • The calves of bison can stand and walk within an hour of their birth
  • The calves grow fast and take care of themselves from an early age
  • They will take two to three years to become a female bison and six years to develop a male bison

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Unique Qualities of American Bison

The American Bison has some unique traits and qualities that distinguish it from other animals. The formidable size is worth mentioning. Also, the calves of a bison change the color as they age. They become dark brown and look like their parents. These animals fight by using their heads.

Also, all the bison both female and male have curved, black, and short horns. 

These large animals are moody. One can judge their mood by observing their tails. If the tail hangs down and it switches naturally, then it is the indication that the animal is calm. When the tail is standing up or straight, then the bison is preparing for some action.

Though you can predict the bison’s mood by observing the tail, you should be always careful. These animals are unpredictable. They can charge at any time. They can cause injuries and even more severe accidents.

Every year, people with close contact with bison are witnessing unfortunate situations. Therefore, you will have to maintain the distance to stay safe. 

The presence of bison in American history makes it a part of the American culture. These animals are respected in many states and as the national animal of the United States of America. Here are some unique qualities that make the American bison different from other animals. 

  • They are the largest mammals found in North America 
  • They are large and tall  
  • The calves tend to change their color 
  • They live in groups and herds
  • They can run fast around forty miles per hour 
  • They can communicate with each other  
  • They are strong and fearless 

Differences between American Bison & Buffalo 

Bison vs Buffalo
Bison vs Buffalo

Many cannot distinguish between a buffalo and a bison. They find both these animals the same. The American bison is confused as the buffalo due to its resemblances to the African and Asian buffalos. However, they are different.

With close observation, one can notice the biological difference. Bison have large heads and shoulder hump of muscle. But, the buffalos look different. They have no hump, and the heads are small as well. Also, Buffalos have large horns, and bison have small horns. These differences make buffalos and bisons different even if they appear the same. 

When it comes to buffalo species, the key categories include Asian water buffalo and the African Cape buffalo. But the main species of the bison are European bison and the American bison. The American bison is the national animal of the United States of America. 

Bison & Their Revival 

The revival story started in 1883. Teddy Roosevelt saved bison from their death. Teddy traveled to hunt bison in Dakota Territory. He spent a few years in the west and returned with a new goal to save bison. He was the one who first paved the way for bison restoration. He started the conservation movement and he was behind the American Bison Society. 

The revival story witnessed new heights in 1905 when the Wind Cave National Park came forward to revive the population of bison all over the country. They initiated a breeding program. Within a few years, the American Bison Society succeeded to restore a bison herd.

The society donated fourteen bison to the wind cave park. After hundred years, the wind cave bison have helped to restore bison in other parts of the United States. Now, there are bison herds in many states. 

In the current condition, the bison lives in all fifty states. These animals live in wildlife refuges, private lands, national parks, and Native American lands. 

Final Thoughts 

The American bison is the national animal of America. The great frame, fearless attitude, enhanced strength, and involvement with American history gave it the status of the bald eagle. The American bison lives around two decades and prefers to travel in a group. Now they are in their best phase since the country is initiating steps for their revival.