Leon M. Lederman Science Education Center

American Bison

Why are there Bison at Fermilab?

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.

Are the Animals here Bison or Buffalo?

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.