Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


European Bison

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Bison
Species: bonasus
Binomial name
Bison bonasus

The Wisent is the European bison, species Bison bonasus.

Often it is mistakenly referred to as aurochs. (A notable difference of the aurochs is long horns.)

The animal was first described in scientific literature by Linnaeus in 1758. It was classified by the IUCN in 1996 as endangered.

The wisent is Europe's heaviest land animal. A typical individual is about 2.9 m long and 1.8 - 1.9 m tall, and weighs 300 to 920 kg. It is taller and less massive than its close relation, the American bison. They also have shorter hair than American bison. Wisent are forest dwelling animals. They have few predators with only scattered reports from the 1800s of wolf and bear predation.

The wisent was reduced to two herds with a couple hundred animals by the 11th century. In 1927 less than 50 remained, all in zoos as the last wild wisent were killed by poachers after World War I. Zoos and forest preserves like Bialowieza Forest, Belarus have the only remaining animals. There were 3200 individuals as of 1994, all descended from only 12 individuals.


Public domain image from Webster's Dictionary 1911 ()