European Bison

The European Bison (Bison bonasus) is an artiodactyl ungulate (split, cloven hoofed) mammal in the bovine (cattle) family. It is a bisonid. It is also known as the Wisent and the European Wood Bison. 

The European Bison has a stocky body with a massive head. It is broad and muscular. It has a shaggy dark-brown coat of fur. Both the male and female have horns that point forward, with a blunted, rounded tip. 

European Bison

It grows to 210-350 centimetres (83-138 inches) in length and about 200 centimetres (78 inches) tall. Its tail measures 30-80 centimetres (12-31 inches) long. The horns measure about 80 centimetres (31 inches) long. It is the heaviest land animal in Europe.

The European Bison is native to northern Europe. It prefers lowland regions. It is migratory, moving to warmer locations in winter. 

It is herbivorous because it eats grass, but it also eats leaves and vegetation. It is a nomadic ruminant browser. Like other cattle, it chews its cud.

It can jump as high as 180 centimetres (72 inches) and run at speeds of 56-64 kilometres per hour (35-40 miles per hour). 

It lives in herds of 8-13 individuals. The herds can be mixed or solely male groups. The male is called a bull and the female is called a cow. 

The female ispregnant for 264 days, before giving birth to one live young, called a calf. 

European Bison
European Bison

[Location of photographs: Berlin Zoo, Germany]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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