Guests to the zoo can see the calves and the rest of the zoo's bison herd on Saturdays and Sundays while their habitat at the Great Bear Wilderness is going through routine maintenance. The zoo's maintenance project is expected to take a few weeks, after which time the herd will be on display daily, according to a news release.
The calves, one male and one female, were born with a reddish coat, which will turn dark over the first 15 weeks of their life. Bison calves are able to stand an hour after birth, and can run within a few hours after. The calves are already grazing, but will continue to nurse for several months.
Prior to the birth of the new calves, the last bison born at the zoo was born to the male calf's mother, Leotie. In 2012, Leotie gave birth to a female calf named Hope, which was the first bison birth at the zoo since the 1970s.
American bison are the symbol of the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the Brookfield Zoo, because they are one of the first North American conservation success stories. The species, which are often incorrectly referred to a buffalo, were nearly slaughtered to extinction in the late 1800s when they were hunted primarily for their hides.
Tens of millions of bison once roamed the Great Plains, but by the 19th century, fewer than 1,000 remained, according to the release.
Bison are making a comeback today, with about 500,000 managed on ranches and tribal lands and about 20,000 living in protected parks and preserves like Yellowstone National Park.
Bison are the largest land animal in North America. Males can stand 6 feet tall and can weight up to 2,000 pounds. Calves, like the two new members of the herd at the zoo, weigh 40 to 50 pounds at birth.
See the zoo's new babies:
Where: The Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield
What: New births include a giraffe and two American bison
More info: www.czs.org