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article imageSeven European bison to be released in Romania

By Karen Graham     Apr 28, 2014 in Environment
The European bison is the heaviest surviving wild animal in Europe today. The animals went extinct in the wild in 1927 when the last one was killed by poachers in the western Caucasus. The only bison left were to be found in zoos across Europe.
The European bison's in existence today are all descended from the Białowieża or lowland European bison. Conservation efforts have been successful in reintroducing these magnificent creatures back into the wild in several countries in Europe where they are now forest dwellers.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) announced this week that seven female bison raised in captivity in the British Isles are to be released into a forest in Romania. The animals arrived at the Vanatori Neamt Nature Park in Romania on April 25, where they will remain in a large enclosure for several weeks to become acclimated to their new home.
Photo taken in Réserve biologique des Monts d Azur  Haut-Thorenc  France. August 22  2011
Photo taken in Réserve biologique des Monts d'Azur, Haut-Thorenc, France. August 22, 2011
Valène Aure
One of the female bison is called Glen Rosa. She was born in April, 2012 and raised at Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park, run by the RZSS. She and the other female bison will join an already established herd at Vanatori Neamt Nature Park to not only add to the herd, but to also add some genetic diversity to the group.
Douglas Richardson, the head of living collections for Highland Wildlife Park, said in a statement: "This is an excellent example of how zoos within the European Zoo Association's coordinated breeding programs are helping save species from extinction."
The first captive-bred European bison was released back into the wild in 1952. Because of the efforts of conservationists and zoos around Europe, reintroduction of the bison has been very successful, with the population of bison in the wild reaching 3,000 animals in 2012. In 1996, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), classified the European bison as an endangered species. The IUCN has now downgraded the European bison's status to "vulnerable" in the wild.
The European bison (Bison bonasus) is slightly different than the American bison (Bison bison). In the first place, when early settlers first came across the American bison, they called it a "Bufello," because it so resembled the buffalos of Africa and Asia. But the American bison is a true member of the bison family, and was only found in North America.
One of the buffalo bulls looking back at me shortly after the stampede had passed me by in Yellowsto...
One of the buffalo bulls looking back at me shortly after the stampede had passed me by in Yellowstone. Photo taken Feb. 24, 2014.
Debeo Morium
The European bison, sometimes called the wisent or the European wood bison, at one time roamed all the lowlands of Europe. Like the American bison, the expansion of the human population was one of the reasons for their demise, particularly deforestation in Europe. By the 20th century, only Białowieża and Northern Caucasus herds survived.
There are several different physical characteristics between the European and American bisons. The European bison has longer legs and has 14 pairs of ribs to the American bison's 15 pairs. The European bison browses more than it grazes, mainly because of a difference in their necks.
European bison are less easy to tame than their American cousins and don't breed with cattle as easily, either. Their horns are set forward, making it easier for them to lock horns with one-another rather than charge, like the American bison. They aren't as hairy either.
More about European, Bison, Extinct, Comeback, Romania
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