Not Your Grandma's Buffalo


In 2016, Congress passed legislation, the National Bison Legacy Act, which named the hoofed beast as a “historical symbol of the United States” and established it as the nation’s landmark mammal.

The Bison. Not the Buffalo.

Sorry Buffalo, you are a different animal that only lives in Asia and Africa.

Early American settlers probably called bison “bufello" because French fur trappers called these huge animals boeufs due to their similarity to oxen. Julia Child made a delicious Boeuf Bourguignon (beef stew with wine), but despite the fact that bison burgers are delicious, no bison were used in the making of this stew.

If you'd like to see a life-size Bison head, the Plainsman Museum has one.

10 Fun Facts about Bison

1. Bison are nearly blind. But you probably still shouldn't stand too close. 2. The Bison is North America's largest land mammal (2200 lbs, 6 feet tall). The largest land mammal in the world is the African Bush Elephant (15,000 lbs, 13 feet tall)

3. Though heavy, a Bison can jump 6 vertical feet

4. The grazing activity of Bison is highly beneficial to prairie ecology:

  • It keeps grasses short so prairie dogs can watch for predators

  • It turns the soil so seeds get buried in the dirt

  • It fertilizes the land with manure

  • It creates wallows that turn into ponds after rains

5. Bison can run over 30 miles per hour.

6. A Bison's hump is made of muscles, and it can use its head as a snowplow.

7. Bison have lived in Yellowstone Park ever since prehistoric times.

8. The Bison’s ancestors hung out with saber-toothed tigers and woolly mammoths.

9. A baby Bison is called a "Red Dog" because they are born a reddish color.

10. Native Americans used the bison for food and clothing, shelter, tools and ceremonial implements – nearly everything to survive physically and spiritually. Find out more about the uses of bison at the Plainsman Museum.

10 Jokes About Bison

Q: How can you tell if a Bison is under your sleeping bag?

A: The ceiling of your tent is very close.

Q: What did the grape say when the Bison stood on it?

A: Nothing, it just let out a little wine!

Q: What do you get when you cross peanut butter with a Bison?

A: A Bison that sticks to the roof of your mouth.

Q: How can you tell a Bison from a field mouse?

A: Try to pick it up. If you can't, it's either a Bison or a very overweight field mouse.

Q: What do you call a Bison at the North Pole?

A: Lost!

Q: What is as big as a Bison but weighs nothing?

A: Its shadow!

Q: What do you call a Bison in a phone booth?

A: Bison don't have phones.

Q: What do you call an Bison with a carrot in each ear?

A: Anything you want - he can't hear you!

Q: What kind of milk comes from a forgetful Bison?

A: Milk of Amnesia

Q: What does Mommy Bison say when her kids go off to college?

A: Bye, Son!

Click here for interactive game showing many ways to use a buffalo

from "Texas Beyond History"

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The Plainsman Museum 2020   ~  210 16th Street ~ Aurora NE ~ 402-694-6531 ~ plainsman@hamilton.net

Images on the web site are the sole property of the Plainsman Museum. If you wish to use them, please contact the museum

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