On a trip to Wylie Park Zoo in Aberdeen, S.D, my nephew and I saw a small herd of large, brown animals. I said, “look at those buffalo.” His responded by telling me that they weren’t buffalo, they were bison. An argument ensued. In the end, we agreed he was right, simply because the plaque in front of the animals says, “Great American Bison.”
But who is really right? It seems we were both correct. The long history of this animal, gives it both the name buffalo and bison. Buffalo has apparently been used for a longer period of time than bison. It also seems that depending on who you ask, the names are interchangeable.
Growing up in South Dakota, you hear a lot about buffalo and bison. Buffalo seems to be the more common name around here. When you grow up in a place where buffalo still roam, you forget that some people have no idea what the animal really is like.
A quick lesson on buffalo/bison: they are not just furry cows, buffalo/bison can be very aggressive and seem much smarter than cows; they are huge; and they are not pet material, no matter what the crazy guy on the Animal Planet show, “Fatal Attractions,” said.
If you happen to come to South Dakota, enjoy the buffalo/bison from a distance. They will ram your car and they will do a lot of damage. These animals move a lot faster then you might think, so always be careful.