Ohio Zoo Mourns the Loss of 19-Year-Old Bison, ‘Clover’

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

On Monday (September 26th) the Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio announced the tragic news that its 19-year-old bison, Clover, sadly passed away over the weekend. 

In a social media post, the Columbus Zoo revealed that Clover was humanely euthanized after the elderly bison started experiencing chronic renal failure. This condition was not entirely unexpected due to her advanced age. In return, the chronic renal failure caused Clover to eat less as well as not move around as much. 

The Columbus Zoo further explained that Clover exceeded the median life expectancy for American Bison. Which, according to the National Park Service and Smithsonian’s National Zoo, is 15 years. Clover was born in March 2003 at the Darby Dan Farm in Galloway, Ohio. She eventually moved to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in March 2004. 

Speaking about the bison’s presence, the Columbus Zoo goes on to share, “While at the Zoo, many staff throughout our Animal Care department had the privilege and joy of working with this spunky girl, who they say always kept them on their toes. Clover enjoyed laying in her sand pile and scratching against her street sweeper brush. Clover loved apples, grain, browse, and her best friend, Hermie.”

The Columbus Zoo went on to add that the bison will be deeply missed by the establishment’s family. “Please keep our North America team and everyone who loved Clover in your thoughts. We welcome you to share your favorite photos or memories of Clover with us.”

The American Bison May Live As Long As 25 Years in Captivity 

According to the National Park Service, American Bison may live in the wild for 15 years. However, in captivity, they may live as long as 25 years. 

“Bison females (cows) begin reproducing around 2-3 years of age,” the National Park Service explains. “Giving birth to a single cafe each spring, after a 9.5 gestation period. Calves may nurse for 7-8 months and are weaned by the end of their first year.”

Meanwhile, the National Park Service also shares that male bison (bulls) are reproductively mature by the age of 3. However, they often do not actively reproduce until they are 6 years old. This is when they are heavier and better able to compete with other bulls. 

The National Park Service further reveals that bison die of various causes. This includes predation (calves are mainly the victims) as well as hunting, disease, drought, severe weather, and deep snow. Drowning is also another cause of death among the species. However, it was noted that healthy herds have high growth rates, typically. So, in return, this helps offset the losses of herd members.