Rare White Bison Born at Belgrade Zoo

A rare White American Bison calf was born at the Belgrade Zoo on May 28. White Bison are estimated to occur in only one out of ten million births.

The calf, named Dusica, is the offspring of Jova, an 11-year-old white male, and Iva, a seven-year-old female with a typical brown coat.

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Photo Credit: Zoran Rajic

White Bison occur naturally due to albinism, leucism, or other genetic conditions. Sometimes, a White Bison develops brown fur as it ages. Others remain white (or light tan) for their entire lives. White Bison can also result from cross-breeding with cattle.

Some American Indian tribes consider White Bison to be sacred as part of spiritual rituals.

American Bison are often referred to as “Buffalo,” but that term is misleading. Bison are quite different than true Buffalo species, such as the Asian Water Buffalo or the African Cape Buffalo. But early European settlers and explorers, upon seeing American Bison for the first time, thought the animals resembled Buffalo, and the name has been used ever since.

The Belgrade Zoo has a long history of breeding white animals, including Bengal Tigers, African Lions, Wallabies, Deer, Indian Peafowl, and various reptiles. Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is known as the “White City.”

American Bison can weigh up to a ton (2,000 pounds) and feed on grass and vegetation.

Before settlement of the American West, hundreds of millions of Bison roamed the North American plains. By the 1800s, Bison were nearly extinct due to overhunting, with only a few hundred animals surviving. Breeding programs and farming have increased the population to around 150,000, but Bison are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This status is due to the fact that most animals are maintained under conservation programs and only five viable populations exist in the wild. Herds are dependent on wide areas of protected land, including national parks and refuges.

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