Bison Return to Collection at National Zoo in D.C.

WASHINGTON — American bison have returned to the National Zoo in Washington after inspiring the park’s creation in the 1880s.

A new bison exhibit opens to the public Saturday, marking the 125th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Bison were the first animals in the collection in 1889 and were once kept on the grounds of the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall as part of a conservation effort.

The zoo named its new bison Wednesday with help from students at Howard University and Gallaudet University, where bison serve as their mascots.

Howard students chose the name Zora for one bison in honor of alumnus, poet and civil rights activist Zora Neal Hurston.

Gallaudet students named the other bison Wilma for Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, the first deaf woman elected to South Africa’s parliament.

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