In Indigenous cultures, respect is the gift of the bison according to the Seven Sacred Teachings. This means respect for the world, for others, and for yourself.
Through a collaborative process, the Zoo's bison exhibit and educational interpretive signage has been transformed in order to help spread awareness of the bison and its teachings.
As many as 40 million bison once ranged throughout much of North America. By the late 19th century, following the arrival of colonial Europeans, bison populations were driven nearly to extinction. Overhunting of bison went beyond the economic considerations of the fur trade with federal officials actually advocating for the widespread eradication of the species as a way to force Indigenous communities into the government’s reservation system and open up additional land for colonial settlement.
While reintroduction and breeding efforts have avoided complete extinction of the species, only a fraction of these once huge herds remain. Population fragmentation and loss of prairie habitat present ongoing challenges for the conservation of the species in the wild.
On your next visit to the Zoo, we encourage you to visit the new viewing platforms overlooking the bison habitat and spend some time at the interpretive displays. Learn about bison and their role in maintaining healthy prairies as well as the important links between these animals and the people from this land.
The bison habitat improvement project was made possible with generous support from The Winnipeg Foundation, Manitoba 150, and Build 150.