American Bison Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

American bison are large animals that are from North America. Come learn about American bison, where they are found today, how they almost disappeared and other neat facts about these animals.

What is an American Bison?

Imagine walking along the open grassland when you see a group of big, furry animals munching on grass. As you sneak closer, you notice that they have dark, rounded horns, dark fur and a lump on their shoulders. You are looking at a herd of American bison!

An American bison is a large, furry animal with hooked horns and a muscular bump on its shoulders that is found in the wild in North America. American bison are the biggest animals in North America that live on land, and can weigh more than 2,000 pounds. That's more than three large black bears!

Female American bison enjoy being around each other, and hang out in groups. The males stay in smaller groups or by themselves. Mother bison take care of their calves, without help from the fathers, until they are big enough to take care of themselves.

American Bison Mother with her Calf
American Bison Mother with her Calf

American bison don't see very well, but make up for it with very good hearing, an excellent sense of smell and are great swimmers. Just like fish, they can swim across streams and rivers with no problem!

Even though they look slow, American bison are fast runners so you don't want to aggravate them or stand in their way. They can run as fast as 40 miles per hour and can jump six feet straight up into the air like a cat!

Their thick, brown fur keeps them toasty warm in the winter when it is cold and snowy. When the weather warms up, they shed that fur, the way you take off your gloves and jacket, so they don't get too hot.

Bison Shedding its Thick Fur
Bison Shedding its Thick Fur

Are American Bison and Buffalo the Same Thing?

You might have heard them called buffalo, but American bison and buffalo are not the same animal. Africa is the only place where you will find actual buffalo, but when people from Europe first came to North America, they called American bison names like buffles. This eventually changed to buffalo.

Where do American Bison Live?

At one time, American bison roamed in herds all over the continent of North America. However, people hunted so many of them that they almost became extinct, or disappeared forever.

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