Dark and light green leaves

North American Bison & Black Tailed Prairie Dog Exhibit

Black-Tailed Prairie Dog – Cynomys Ludovicianus

Status: Least Concern
Prairie Dog

Habitat: Prairie dogs can be found in the Great Plains area of the central United States. They live in a series of underground burrows.  The burrows are an interconnected series of tunnels and chambers, consisting of several different rooms and more than one entrance.

Adaptations: Prairie dogs are territorial. Group members announce the boundaries of their territory by rearing up on their hind legs, pointing their heads skyward, and giving a series of distinctive barks. The prairie dog maintains its social structure with a ritual of kisses.

Diet: Grasses and other plants, including crops such as alfalfa and corn.

Fun Fact: Despite their name, prairie dogs aren’t dogs – they are squirrels. Their name comes from the barking noise that they make to warn one another of danger.

North American Bison – Bison Bison

Status: Near Threatened

Habitat: Historically, bison were found from Alaska southward to northern Mexico. Today, they occupy a patchy distribution on public and private lands on the prairies of western North America.

Adaptations: Bison are approximately six feet tall, up to 11 feet long, and weigh over 2,000 pounds, making them the largest land animal in the western hemisphere. The shaggy, brownish-black fur is shed in the summer, revealing a shorter coat underneath. The large hump on the back is used to support the massive head, which in turn is used to clear snow away from hidden grasses.

Diet: Grasses, shrubs
Fun Fact: While they are often called “buffalo,” the true buffalo are found in Africa and Asia. Although bison have sharp senses of smell and hearing, they have poor vision. Despite their great bulk, bison are capable of running more than 30 miles an hour for an extended period of time. In 2016, the American bison was designated the national mammal of the United States of America.