The Fermilab bison are a display herd. They are part of the
Fermilab program to recognize the history and prairie heritage
of Illinois. The tradition was started in 1969 by Fermilab's first
director, Robert R. Wilson, who wanted to give local residents
an opportunity to enjoy the natural environments of Illinois.
He also felt that international visitors would appreciate seeing
this piece of Americana. The subsequent directors, Leon Lederman
and John Peoples, have continued the commitment to the Bison herd
and other environmental programs.
The animals in the Fermilab herd are American bison (Bison bison). They differ in several ways from buffalo which are native to southern Africa and Asia. The term buffalo which we use in every day speech comes from the French word, boeufs. When French trappers saw the bison herds they reminded them of their cattle back home.