Late April is always a special time of year at Fermilab. Spring is in the air, the leaves are green, the birds are singing, and adorable baby bison are born.
Fermilab welcomed the first baby bison of 2016 on Tuesday, April 26, increasing the herd size to 18. As many as 14 more calves are expected before early June.
All are welcome to visit the laboratory to see and photograph the new baby bison. (They’re always a hit with young children.) The site is open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and admission is free. You’ll need a valid photo ID to enter the site.
Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, established the bison herd in 1969 as a symbol of the history of the Midwestern prairie and the laboratory’s pioneering research at the frontiers of particle physics. The herd remains a major attraction for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
And just recently, thanks to the science of genetic testing, Fermilab’s ecologist Ryan Campbell confirmed that the laboratory’s herd is 100 percent bison, with no cattle genes. Farmers during the early settlement era would breed bison with other bovine species to keep them from extinction, but Fermilab’s bison are purebred.
A herd of pure bison is a natural fit for a prairie ecosystem, like the kind that exists on the Fermilab site. Fermilab hosts 1,100 acres of reconstructed tall-grass prairie, and the U.S. Department of Energy designated the 6,800-acre site a National Environmental Research Park in 1989.
While you’re at the Fermilab site visiting the bison, you can learn more about our ecological efforts by hiking the Interpretive Prairie Trail, a half-mile-long trail located near the Pine Street entrance in Batavia. The Lederman Science Center also offers exhibits on the prairie and hands-on physics displays. The Lederman Center hours are Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fermilab is America’s premier national laboratory for particle physics research. A U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science laboratory, Fermilab is located near Chicago, Illinois, and operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance LLC. Visit Fermilab’s website at http://www.fnal.gov and follow us on Twitter @Fermilab.
The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://science.energy.gov.