- A white bison has been spotted at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Lampe, Missouri.
- The birth of the animal is rare, but conservationists say the sighting is becoming more common thanks to crossbreeding efforts.
- The two-year-old calf was named Takoda, a Sioux word meaning “friend to everyone.”
A surprising new guest has arrived at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains: a rare white bison calf. Named Takoda, a Sioux word meaning “friend to everyone,” he was born on a private ranch and came to live with the herd of bison currently roaming Dogwood Canyon earlier this year.
Jeremy Hinkle, director of wildlife at Dogwood Canyon, tells Prevention.com that a white bison’s birth “was once an exceptionally rare occurrence, with some estimates stating that only one in 10,000,000 bison were born white.”
However, you may now encounter one of these majestic creatures thanks to the work of conservationists. “Though still rare, the phenomenon is more common due to crossbreeding with cattle as a result of attempts by ranchers to save the species from extinction after original populations plummeted to only a few hundred between 1830 and 1900.”
Wildlife experts are thrilled about Takoda’s presence at Dogwood Canyon for many reasons. The bison “shows the delicate balance of conservation that saved this species from near extinction,” Hinkle says. “Takoda also serves as a visual example of the meaning of white buffalo in native cultures, especially Plains tribes.”
Bison and buffalo are related animals, but they do have distinct differences, such as horn shape and humps. Bison are found in North America and parts of Europe, while buffalo are native to South Asia and Africa. (That said, “buffalo” is still commonly used in reference to American bison.)
“According to traditional Native American teachings spanning thousands of years, the white bison is a sacred animal that promotes prayerful communication between Indigenous people and the Great Spirit, while also serving as a sign of peace and good fortune,” Hinkle says.
Well, the time seems to be here! In addition to Takoda, white bison have also been spotted in Connecticut and Illinois in recent years. If you’re feeling inspired to visit one of these beautiful creatures, make sure you admire it from afar. Bison injure more people than any other animal, and these large animals can run up to three times faster than humans. So, the National Park Service recommends keeping a safe 25-yard distance between you and the animal.