HANNA CITY, Ill. (WMBD) – This Mother’s Day animal keepers at a local park are celebrating a different type of motherhood, a baby bison and it’s mom. Workers say it’s helping save the species from extinction.
“Bison were killed by the hundreds of thousands and they were almost extinct,” said animal keeper at Wildlife Prairie Park, Anne Garcia.
Garcia said the American Bison was killed by the thousands in the 1800’s by western settlers.
“They are extirpated out of Illinois which means again they were here at one point but they are extinct within Illinois, except for the few herds people take care of,” said Garcia.
One herd lives at the Wildlife Prairie Park in Hanna City, 3826 N. Taylor Road. It brings animal enthusiasts like Grace Thomas, here to help bring the population size up.
“It feels great I like to do it and knowing that we are adding quality genetics to the population,” said Thomas.
Wildlife Prairie Park is home to 26 bison and keepers said they are 100% bison. One keeper said the key to saving a near endangered species starts with motherhood. One of their females, Lakota gave birth to a calf last month. The gender reveal on Friday said it was a girl.
“We went over just to check and Kenzie said, ‘There’s a baby!’ And she saw it before me and I just I didn’t believe her at all and I saw the baby popped up and it was just magical we were so excited,” said Thomas.
Both animal keepers believe the work they do is a testament to how animal care facilities can help endangered species.
“The knowledge and the hard work that conservationists and biologists and animal care workers do. to have people who probably would never have the opportunity to see these animals, to see them up close and personal and they can tell other people about what they have seen,” said Garcia.
Garcia said the best thing people can do is learn about how endangered species can affect the world and visit and see the animals too.
She said donations from the public are helping them with these milestones. To learn more you can visit their website.