Animals Blog

New baby female European bison born at Fota Wildlife Park

New baby female European bison born at Fota Wildlife Park

Today Fota Wildlife Park announced the birth of a female European bison calf (Bison bonasus) who was born on Saturday 2nd June to first-time mother Red and father Hyssop. Fota Wildlife Park is now calling upon the public to name the calf and be in with a chance to win a yearlong Conservation Membership (see the form below to enter). The young calf joins the 13-strong herd including her father Hyssop who joined the herd four years ago from Port Lympne as part of the European breeding program.

European bison are the largest and heaviest land mammal in Europe and were hunted to extinction in the wild in the early 20th century. Due to the cooperative captive breeding programmes of zoos and wildlife parks, including Fota, they have now been re-introduced to the wild and re-established in Poland, Romania and other European countries. In April 2008 Fota Wildlife Park sent its first European bison to Poland where their descendants are roaming through the Białowieża Forest. In April 2014 Fota Wildlife Park sent two female bison to join a wild-living herd in Vanatori Neamt Nature Park in Romania along with four other captive-bred females from Highland Wildlife Park (Inverness-shire) and Port Lympne and Howletts Wild Animal Parks (Kent).

Lead Ranger Aidan Rafferty commented on the birth “We’re delighted with our new addition to the European Bison herd and Red and calf are both doing great - as a first-time mother she’s adapting to her new calf very well, she’s very protective of her and they both are taking to suckling with ease. The European bison is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable due to its small population size and Fota participate in the European-wide breeding programme ever since bison first arrived in Cork in 1999. A significant number of calves have been born in the years since and many have been sent overseas to aid in programmes being developed elsewhere as well as to the re-introduction programmes where the Fota descendants are now a part of some of the free-ranging herds in Europe.”

The European bison, also known as the ‘wisent’ is a distinctive looking animal with a thickset body, short neck and a visible hump at the shoulder (the forest dwelling European bison are narrower in frame than the American plains bison). They have a dark brown mane under the neck and forehead and visitors will notice that the bison in the Park are currently moulting their rich winter coats. As the largest land mammal in Europe, a big bull can weigh up to 1,000 kilos and can reach a height of six feet.

To enter your name suggestion please complete the following form, the Rangers will choose the winning name:

Create your own user feedback survey

or use the link below: