Fermilab welcomes 2024 baby bison

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New baby bison have arrived at Fermilab! The particle physics laboratory just outside of Naperville has a growing herd of over 40 bison and two bulls that roam the campus’ prairie land.

Growing herd of bison at Fermilab

Fermilab welcomed its first two baby bison of 2024 on Friday, April 26. Since then, 15 more have followed, with the facility expecting at least three more to come this year.

According to Fermilab’s Bison Herdsman Cleo Garcia, calving season runs through the summer.

“(The bison) have different signs, they actually get bigger, and the udder gets full, and that’s when you tell that they’re getting ready to calve,” said Garcia.

Garcia and his team of 11 other workers at Fermilab tend to the bison daily.

“One of the main thing(s) is making sure they have water and the fences are in good shape,” said Garcia. “At this time of the year, we don’t supply any food, they graze. We make sure that the new calves are healthy, they’re doing okay, (and that) we don’t have any issues.”

55 years of bison at Fermilab

Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, created the bison herd in 1969 to symbolize the lab being on the frontier of physics, as the bison represent the American frontier. Most of the bison in this current herd are descendants of the original group.

“We had the herd tested a few years back and it was proven they were almost pure, 99.5%,” said Garcia. “The only thing we replace (are) the bulls, making sure the bulls aren’t (mixing) with the cattle genes.”

Visit the herd for free

Visitors are welcome to view the bison for free in person at Fermilab, which is located at the intersection of Kirk Road and Pine Street in Batavia. 

The outdoor campus is open from dawn to dusk. All visitors 18 years or older must present a REAL ID driver’s license or passport upon arrival.

But those who can’t make the trip can check in on the bison any day, any time, thanks to Fermilab’s bison camera, which offers a live feed of the herd.

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