Originating in Eurasia, the American Bison, or Buffalo, is now the largest terrestrial mammal in North America. Buffalo lose their shaggy, dark brown winter coat for a lightweight, light brown summer coat. Bison can reach over 6 feet tall and 10 feet long weighing over 2,000 pounds.
The heads and forequarters are massive, and both male and female have short, curved horns used for defense and fighting for status among the herd.
The mating season in August and September will yield a single reddish-brown calf the following spring. The calf will nurse for one year and reach maturity at 3 years of age. Buffalo have a life expectancy of 18-22 years.
The Buffalo once inhabited the Great Plains in massive herds, stretching as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico, and from Oregon almost to the Atlantic Ocean. They were central to the lifestlye of Native Americans in these regions. By 1884, the American Bison were hunted to near extinction. Various wildlife preserves have collaborated with zoos and national parks to revitalize the population, which currently numbers 350,000. Even still today, Buffalo are noted for their hides and meat, which is lower in fat and cholesterol than beef.