Osage Nation Welcomes Pure Bison From The Bronx Zoo After 26-Hour Journey

After a 26-hour journey, the bison needed another minute before taking a step out of the trailer Tuesday morning to settle into their new surroundings at the Osage Nation Ranch.

Tuesday, February 20th 2024, 6:23 pm



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From the Big Apple to the hills of Oklahoma, a trailer full of bison just made a cross-country trip overnight to their new home.

The Bronx Zoo gave the Osage Nation the bison as part of its conservation efforts.

After a 26-hour journey, the bison needed another minute before taking a step out of the trailer Tuesday morning to settle into their new surroundings at the Osage Nation Ranch.

"Well, it's the first time they ever looked up and didn't see skyscrapers,” Shawn Henderson said.

He was one of the drivers who hauled the bison away from New York City.

“That part was the most stressful part of the trip,” he said.

Henderson, his employee, and Henderson’s nephew only made stops for fuel since leaving Monday morning. Henderson, who is from Welch, left Oklahoma on Friday with an empty trailer to pick up the bison.

On the trip back, he said the bison had hay to eat and stayed calm the whole trip.

“Practically impossible to keep a water tank in there for them. So 26 hours, they'll be fine without water, but we sure don't want to go much more than that. And that's the reason that you just have to drive straight through with them,” he said. “Most of the time they just, was laid down and just chillin, I guess, in the trailer. You didn't even feel them move around or anything like that."

Henderson made this same trip once before, in 2022.

"Growing up around here, really never thought I'd go to New York City, let alone haul buffalo out of the Bronx Zoo. I just feel super blessed that I got the opportunity to do that,” Henderson said.

As the seven bison adjust to their new home, the first order of business on Tuesday was lunch.

The bison will spend a night in a corral, then about a month in a five-acre pasture, before being released to 3200 acres to roam free.

"I think these guys are gonna love it. They're not gonna know what to do for a while because no one comes out to see anybody in the Osage Nation way out here in the middle of nowhere. But that's ok. I think they will adjust very well,” Harleigh Moore-Wilson said.

She is the Osage Nation Director of Natural Resources and Food Sovereignty.

Moore-Wilson said what makes the bison from the Bronx Zoo so special is their rare genes.

"There are not very many genetically pure bison left in the United States because in the early 1900s, so many bison were killed off that there was just a little over 1000 bison left, and that is why the Bronx Zoo originally started their bison program,” she said.

This is the second group of bison the Nation has received from the zoo. Harleigh says the animals' grazing patterns will benefit the land and the Osage people by bringing the land back to its natural state.

The seven from the big city will join about 280 other bison on the preserve, which is Osage ancestral land.

"I truly think our ancestors would be so proud. I know that as a member of the Osage Nation myself, I am proud to know that we have these efforts, and we are partnering with the conservation services like the Bronx Zoo to be able to have this for generations to come."

The Osage Nation Ranch, which was sold to the tribe by Ted Turner in 2016, is made up of 43,000 acres. The bison preserve on the ranch is about 3200 acres.  

To read more about the partnership between the Bronx Zoo and the Osage Nation, click here.

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