Sunday, July 22, 2012

Zubron

Zubron
Meet the Zubron, a hybrid creature that is the result of crosses between European Bison (Wisent) and Cattle. Think "Beefalo" but with a longer history and a slightly different Bison in the mix.

The first Zubron dates all the way back to 1847, when a Polish man named Leopold Walicki created crosses between male Wisent and female Cattle. The result was a hardy animal that was less susceptible to disease. Other benefits? Zubron would graze on less desirable tracts of land that didn't need a huge farm infrastructure. They also required far less human interaction. Downsides? First generation males were infertile, though the females weren't. So a female Zubron could be bred back to either Cattle or Wisent, creating fertile male offspring.

Zubron breeding continued through the 19th century and into the 20th. By 1958 the work was taken on by the Polish Academy of Sciences, and several dozen animals were born in those first few years. In 1969 a contest was held by the newspaper Przekroj, and the name Zubron was chosen for the hybrids.

By the late 1980s, however, the results of the crosses were no longer considered desirable and state farms were losing interest. There was also fear that the hybrids would contaminate the gene pools of the purebred Wisent, a Vulnerable species.

There are a few Zubron left now in Bialowieski National Park, and there is still some work being done to create the hybrids, but on a far more limited scale.

Status : Hybrid
Location : Developed in Poland
Size : Weight up to 2,600lbs (1,200kg)
Classification : Bos taurus × Bison bonasus

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