Bison Plains

Bison Plains

Bison Plains is situated on more than 40 acres of land, half of which is woodland and hills and the other, flat, open grasslands.

American Bison are the largest terrestrial and heaviest land animals in North America. Bison, known for living in the Great Plains, were hunted close to extinction during the 19th and 20thcenturies. But, have since recovered in population and are no longer listed as endangered.

American Bison are commonly mistaken for buffalo, but the two have different physical characteristics, habitats, temperaments and life spans. Buffalo are found in Africa and south Asia while bison roam North and South America.

Bison can stand five to six-and-a-half feet tall at the shoulder and can weigh over 2,000 pounds. Despite their massive size, bison are quick and able to run up to 40 miles an hour. They also have a fairly simple diet: grass, low-lying shrubbery and twigs.

Fun Fact: At night, the bison herd is let off of the main pasture to an off-exhibit holding pasture. The movement helps prevent wear and tear on their daytime area.

Bison Overlook and Nature Play Area

This addition, located at the entrance to Bison Plains, allows visitors to exit their vehicles and walk onto an ADA accessible raised platform, putting them eye-to-eye with North America’s largest mammal. 

The 600-square foot viewing deck overlooks the 40 acres of woodland hills and open grasslands that make up the Bison Plains. A full-size bronze sculpture of a mother bison and her young calf greet guests at the entrance of the viewing deck surrounded by playground mulch, which encourages kids to climb. In addition, a nature-based playground offers opportunities to explore, play and learn. Gary Pettit, superintendent of the Wildlife Safari Park, said, “The bison are one of North America’s most iconic animals. Standing at the Overlook, you get a true sense of how the bison lived.”
A group of donors made the Bison Overlook project come to fruition as a tribute to a boy who came to his favorite place, the Wildlife Safari Park, every Friday to visit the bison. Lane Graves was a two-year-old Elkhorn boy who tragically passed away in June 2016. In his honor, the efforts to build the overlook and playground came together.