Tails From The Zoo

White Bison Calf Donated to Sioux Valley Dakota Nation April 3, 2010

Filed under: Presentations,Special Events,Zoo Animals,Zoo Knew — Scott Gray @ 4:08 pm
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The Assiniboine Park Zoo donated a white bison (aka white buffalo) to the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation on Monday, March 29. The 11 month old female and her brown brother (born in April of 2009) were gifted in a ceremony witnessed by Mayor Sam Katz, Chief Donna Elk, Elder Roger Armitte, along with members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate reservation, Sioux Valley, Assiniboine Park Zoo officials and invited guests. The white bison is considered a strong spiritual symbol denoting renewal. Arvol Looking Horse from Green Grass, S.D., the 19th generation carrier of the sacred bundle and pipe believed to have been given to the Dakota people many centuries ago by the White Buffalo Calf Woman was also in attendance.


Bison video courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1529573193?bctid=74714257001)

Read the CBC‘s coverage of the friendship ceremony here: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/03/29/mb-white-bison-calf-winnipeg.html


Blizzard, the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s white bison, came to us in March 2006 and instantly became a huge draw for interested zoo visitors and, more importantly, for Aboriginal people. Here is a press clipping from the summer of ’06.

Top-secret mission brings rare white bison to Winnipeg zoo

WINNIPEG – A rare white bison made his official debut yesterday at the Assiniboine Park Zoo after a top-secret mission to bring him to Canada in recognition of his spiritual significance to aboriginal people.

By The Ottawa Citizen June 6, 2006

WINNIPEG – A rare white bison made his official debut yesterday at the Assiniboine Park Zoo after a top-secret mission to bring him to Canada in recognition of his spiritual significance to aboriginal people.

Blizzard marched solemnly before the cameras, displaying the instincts of a show horse on parade. He arrived in a blizzard in March from an anonymous American rancher and the zoo kept him a secret from the public until yesterday.

His coming is especially significant to First Nations because of a 2,000-year-old legend of the Lakota, a northern plains First Nation, which tells of a mystical maiden who appeared bearing a sacred pipe she used to teach the people to pray.

On leaving, she promised to return some day and usher in a time of great peace. As she moved away, the maiden turned into a white buffalo calf.

Scientists, who say the proper name is bison and not buffalo, say a white calf is born only once in 15 million births. The animals do not have albinism — their colour comes from a rare surfacing of a recessive gene that goes back in time thousands of years.

One of the last was a calf named Miracle who drew pilgrimages of aboriginal people to her owner’s ranch in Wisconsin a decade ago.

Zookeepers are poised for pilgrimages to Winnipeg. Never before has a white bison been linked to Manitoba, which holds the bison as its provincial symbol, said zoo curator Bob Wrigley.

© (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.


For information on Blizzard, please visit: http://assiniboinepark.ca/media/animals/pdf/White%20Buffalo.pdf

To read the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, please visit: http://www.naturenorth.com/Zoo/White_buffalo_rightside.pdf


New bison births April 29, 2009

Filed under: New Animals/Births,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 9:42 am
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The Assiniboine Park Zoo is now home to two new bison calves! Born in the last week, both calves seem strong and healthy and are already on display with their proud mothers. They will be meeting their father, Blizzard, when he arrives back at the zoo in May after spending the winter in Calgary.

New bison calves

Thanks to Darlene Stack for this wonderful picture of Hubert (little male up front) and Bobby (little girl)!


Blizzard the White Bison January 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 8:15 am
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Here’s a quick update on the whereabouts and well-being of Blizzard the white bison, as some of you have been wondering where Blizzard has gone. Blizzard is spending the winter at the Calgary Zoo, having arrived there in early December of last year to much media hoopla. Blizzard will be returning to his main herd here in Winnipeg in May of 2009.

For those of you who don’t know about Blizzard, here’s a quick bit of background on him for you. Blizzard is a white  bison that was born in the summer of 2005.  He got his name, in part because of his colour (he is not albino), and in part because he arrived in Winnipeg in the midst of a snow storm in March of 2006.

Blizzard immediately made a name for himself and for the zoo through his significance to Aboriginal people. His arrival and introduction to our herd was blessed and witnessed by several Manitoba Elders and he has since been visited by thousands of First Nations people who understand the importance of the Legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman and its teachings. Blizzard has also been an important part of the Zoo Education Centre’s talks and tours, and we’ve been lucky enough to share the story of the bison with thousands of school children and zoo visitors.