Young and Old Bison Together At Last

SAN FRANCISCO – After six weeks of quarantine, six young bison were released to join the three older bison at the Paddock in Golden Gate Park.  Under Mayor Lee’s leadership, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD) coordinated the efforts with Mr. Richard Blum, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, and the San Francisco Zoo to replenish the bison herd and renovate the bison paddock in Fall 2011.  The young bison were in quarantine since their arrival.

“The bison are truly unique and magnificent treasures of Golden Gate Park, and we are thrilled that the young and old bison are together now,” said Phil Ginsburg, RPD General Manager.

The largest living animal native to North America, bison are an American success story. More than 100 years ago, 30-60 million roamed the North American prairie. When railroads were built across the prairie, travelers would shoot the bison for sport, food and skins. This decimation also deprived the Plains Indians of their primary food source. However, the conservation efforts reinstated and protected the American bison and preserved one of our nation’s historic animals.

Recently, a young bison was found deceased due to blunt trauma caused by an incident of animal disturbance at the Paddock.  Now, the paddock area is undergoing a modification process to ensure safety of a larger herd of bison, and to meet the demands of an increasing population of urban pets and native wild life as well as the ever-changing landscape in Golden Gate Park.

In 2007, the paddock fencing was upgraded in consultation with the Zoo.  A new 8’ tall chain link fence and interior wire fence were installed, and the overall paddock size was increased by approximately 4 acres.  The upgrade cost was a total of $1.3 million, and the funding sources were State Proposition 40 and 12 as well as the 1992 Golden Gate Park Bond.  In addition, a bison quarantine and veterinary treatment area was added to the Paddock in November 2011.  The new facility serves both the Zoo staff and bison herd in providing a safe and healthy indoctrination of new bison herd and the continued care and observation for years to come. 

The Bison herd has existed in Golden Gate Park since 1877, and in its current location since 1899.  San Francisco was the first city in the Western United States that began a captive breeding program to prevent extinction of the American Bison.

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