Living across most of North America has allowed bison to adapt to a wide variety of weather and temperature extremes. Although we provide them with a barn, Lucy and Gally often choose to stay outside in weather I’m usually trying to escape.
When it’s hot, visitors can see them sunbathing in their yard. When it’s raining, they stand against the wind and get soaked. And when it snows, they usually lay like big boulders, peacefully crusted in ice before the sun comes up. Then, later in the day, they bound around, playing in the winter wonderland. Bison were made for extremes, and it’s always impressive to see them fully embracing the natural changes the seasons bring.
In addition to the environmental enrichment, we also provide the bison with enrichment items to encourage other natural behaviors. They can spar with heavy weeble toys like they would other bison or toss around large, hefty boomer balls to work their powerful neck and shoulder muscles.
During the springtime, bison shed their thick winter coats. In the wild, they will rub on whatever they can find to help get the hair off. Here at the Zoo, we provide them with heavy studded rubber mats attached to posts and walls, and an upcycled car wash brush hanging by their barn for them to scratch and rub on.