Wood bison

Bison bison athabascae



600 kg (f)
1000 kg (m)



American immigrants

Wood bison are the largest terrestrial mammals in the Americas. Towards the end of the last ice age, their ancestors wandered across the ancient Behring land bridge from North Asia to America. Since then the ruminants have been living in the north-western forests of Canada and feed primarily on grasses, herbs, shoots and lichens.

Sturdy herd animals

Newborn calves are able to run and kick within hours of birth and join the migration of their herd on the same day. Wood bison have a dense winter coat that makes them feel comfortable in temperatures as low as - 40° C. Despite their massive physique, they can sprint at speeds of up to 50 km/h.

Endangered forest animals

In the mid-20th century, the wood bison was on the verge of extinction due to hunting and the loss of habitat. However the population has since recovered thanks to conservation efforts and the securing of vast nature reserves. This includes captive breeding and reintroduction programmes to help strengthen the populations in the wild.

Conservation status