Presentation Scheduled Nov. 9 at Anschutz Collection’s American Museum for Western Art
National Bison Day is Saturday, November 5, and Denver Zoo is proud to highlight its commitment to our new National Mammal! Zoo scientist, Dr. Rebecca Garvoille, will present on the Zoo's work to protect and restore bison at the Anschutz Collection’s American Museum for Western Art (AMWA) on November 9, from 3-4:30 p.m. Garvoille will discuss the Zoo’s field conservation initiatives in Colorado and New Mexico, and the near demise and hopeful recovery of bison as seen through key AMWA paintings. All month long, the Zoo will celebrate bison on Facebook, where fans can see in-the-field stories about the Zoo’s bison conservation successes.
Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law the National Bison Legacy Act, making the bison the nation’s first official mammal. Now, the bison is as iconic as the Bald Eagle, the national bird. The American Bison Coalition, which works to increase the public profile of the bison, championed this designation. The coalition is made up of 28 proud partners, including Denver Zoo.
Denver Zoo has played a pivotal role in protecting bison for over 100 years. In the late 1800s, when bison were disappearing from the Western landscape, Denver Zoo acquired several of the few remaining plains bison and conserved them in the public trust at what was then City Park Zoo. More recently, Denver Zoo worked with several key partners to welcome ten bison with heirloom genetics back to the short grass prairies of Northern Colorado.
Currently, the Zoo co-manages a herd of bison in New Mexico for ecological and cultural benefit. The Zoo works in partnership with the Pueblo of Pojoaque, a Native American tribe, who owns the herd. These bison graze on the federally-owned Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge, and are studied by students at New Mexico Highlands University. In 2009, the herd was reintroduced to restore the landscape through grazing, wallowing, and dung. These bison also play an important role in Denver Zoo’s community engagement and educational programming in the region and catalyze cultural restoration for the Pueblo of Pojoaque people.
Since 2014, the Zoo’s conservation social science team has advanced understanding about the social value of conservation bison herds in Colorado and across North America. Denver Zoo is partnering with managers and scientists to look at the social benefits of bison herds in metro Denver and northern Colorado in order to enhance the visitor experience and people’s connections to grasslands. In addition, Dr. Garvoille is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) North American Bison Specialist (BSG) and co-leads the IUCN BSG’s social science working group focused on advancing successful and socially responsive bison recovery.
The bison serves as a symbol of unity, resilience and healthy landscapes and communities to the American people. The largest land mammal in the country, bison helped shape the Great Plains and the lifeways of the Native Americans who lived there. Bison have been important for centuries to North American history and culture and, today, they live in all 50 states.
To purchase tickets to “Keeping the Old West Alive in the New West: Bison Conservation through Art and Science with the Denver Zoo,” please visit: