National Bison Day is just around the corner! In May 2016, the National Bison Legacy Act was signed, officially designating bison as the national mammal of the United States, and the first Saturday in November was declared “National Bison Day.”
Why is this a big deal?
For centuries, the bison population numbered in the millions. Herds roamed freely, and the animals played a crucial part in the ecology, the economy and culture of the United States. As communities began to grow and move westward, bison were hunted for sport, and they were hunted to the brink of extinction.
With population numbers dwindling, conservancies formed across the country began working to protect the bison and to improve their habitats. Thanks to these efforts, bison are no longer considered endangered.
How did Shelby Farms Park wind up with a buffalo herd?
Buffalo have been at Shelby Farms Park since 1989. The Shelby County Superintendent for Shelby Farms Park - Tommy Hill - brought six buffalo and two longhorn steer to the Park from Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo, Tennessee. They quickly became popular Park inhabitants and have lived there ever since.
So, are they bison or buffalo?
The animals you see at Shelby Farms Park are American Bison (Bison bison), commonly known as buffalo. American buffalo are different from African and Asian buffalo. "Bison" is scientifically accurate, while "buffalo" recalls this animal's central role in American history. We like “buffalo” best.
You can help support these awesome animals by making a contribution to our Feed the Herd program, which helps provide hay and supplemental feed for the Park’s iconic buffalo herd. Learn more and make your gift here.
⚠️ The Woodland Discovery Playground will be temporarily closed beginning on or around August 1 as we replace the safety surfacing.