The calf who was born earlier this year has been named Takoda, a Sioux word meaning "friend to everyone."
There is a unique new resident at the Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, and he's a rare white bison calf born earlier this year. If ever we wanted a reason to visit the Ozark mountains, this is a good excuse as any. We may just get a glimpse of the bison who has been named Takoda, a Sioux word meaning "friend to everyone." Born on a private ranch, Takoda has now joined the herd of 25 bison already in the park. Here, visitors will be able to see the rare bison in what the park officials hope is an educational experience.
You Can See a Rare White Bison Calf at Missouri’s Dogwood Canyon Nature Park https://t.co/pq16otHz9U— Travel + Leisure (@TravelLeisure) February 13, 2021
"Welcoming a remarkable white bison like this to Dogwood Canyon Nature Park allows us to expand on the important message that Native Americans live out an unwavering conservation ethic," Bob Ziehmer, senior director of conservation for Bass Pro Shops, which helps operate the park through its own non-profit, said in a statement. "Their wisdom and understanding about the vital balance between land and people inspire our core conservation principles, even today."
For the Native Americans, the white bison is a sacred animal. According to the traditional teachings, the birth of a white bison symbolizes peace and good fortune as well as promotes prayerful communication between Indigenous people and the Great Spirit.
A sign of hope. In Lakota lore the birth of a sacred white buffalo is a sign of hope and an indication of good times to come.— Philip Rothman (@PhilipRothman1) February 13, 2021
A Beautiful and Rare White Bison Has Been Spotted in Missouri’s Ozark Mountainshttps://t.co/xX1kc6sWwr
Over time, the birth of white bison, although still rare, has become a more common phenomenon due to crossbreeding with cattle. This was done mainly by ranchers to save the species from extinction after original populations plummeted between 1,830 and 1,900, reported Lake News Online. Two centuries ago, America was home to over 30 million bison. This number dropped drastically, and by the 19th century, fewer than 2,000 remained. But this was reversed through the efforts of conservationists and there are now about 350,000 bison living in the United States. according to Travel and Leisure. And this includes little Takoda.
Wildlife experts are excited about the birth of the white bison because it "shows the delicate balance of conservation that saved this species from near extinction," Jeremy Hinkle, director of wildlife at Dogwood Canyon, told Prevention.com. He added, "Takoda also serves as a visual example of the meaning of white buffalo in native cultures, especially Plains tribes." He spoke of the legend of the white bison just as the Native Americans had narrated.
Hinkle retold the story by stating, how a that a long time ago, during a great famine, a Lakota chief sent two boys to hunt for food. Upon their searching, the boys came across a beautiful woman, who gifted their tribe a white buffalo calf chanupa (pipe). Before she left, the woman turned into a white buffalo and told them that when the white buffalo returns, it is a sign of good fortune and that their prayers have been fulfilled. The last time a white bison was born was in 2012. He was born on Peter Fay’s farm in Northwest Connecticut.
Speaking to The New York Times, Fay said about the birth of the white calf, "I think it’s not a coincidence that all this stuff is happening. The more you get involved with Native Americans, the more you see it’s a good thing that it’s happening. The country is now in pretty sad shape, so you never know what can help. But for now, I’m just trying to learn about it."
But for now, you can book a Wildlife Tram Tour with Dogwood Canyon Nature Park to see Takoda here.