Friday, February 22, 2013

Bison Paddock...

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco is full of many treasures, including American bison. Have you ever seen an American bison? These prehistoric looking creatures (also known as American buffalo) used to roam the grasslands of North America in massive herds then nearly went extinct during the 1800's. Their population decline was the result of hunting and slaughter by European settlers along with deadly diseases originating from domestic cattle.

Considering that the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species™ notes the number of remaining wild bison in North America to be around only 15,000, when friends and family come to visit, I almost always take them to the Bison Paddock. Together, we've created many great memories there.

Mom was with me when I snapped this artsy black and white pic.
American bison have a long history with Golden Gate Park as that they were first transported there from the Great Plains in 1890. But we have the husband of California senator Dianne Feinstein to thank in part for the bison we see at the paddock today because these animals are the descendants of the ones he gave her as a birthday present in 1984 (she was mayor of The City then).

Although the bison are beautiful to look at, when I take people to the paddock, we don't spend too much time there because these animals usually aren't incredibly active and there's lots more to see in the park (expect more blog posts about other Golden Gate Park sights in the future). Most times, the bison are just standing stoically in the field or grazing on the various grasses and weeds they have access to. Sometimes I've seen them roll around on the ground, rub on nearby trees and even defecate (gross).

But when I look into the eyes of a bison, I feel like I understand why the Native Americans see them as sacred. Each visit to the Bison Paddock is a time of reflection, a reconnection with peace and a reminder for me to try to be thankful for the things I already have instead of always wanting more. Yes, the buffalo take me there for some reason, they are very special animals so go and see for yourself!

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