PHOTO: Extremely Rare White Bison Calf in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains

by Evan Reier

Many parents like to say that their kid is “one of a kind”. But this Missouri white bison might be able to actually live up to that claim.

Takoda, a young calf recently born in the Ozark Mountains, has garnered some attention recently due to his stark white fur. Now, this isn’t an albino bison. Takoda, who’s name is “friend to everyone” in Sioux, has some pigment. Rather, he is considered to be a product of farmers.

Jeremy Hinkle, director of wildlife at Dogwood Canyon where Takoda currently resides, sat down with to discuss.

According to Hinkle, Takoda’s birth is more common nowadays, but mentioned that certain estimates in the past chalked up a white bison birth as extremely unlikely.

“[It] was once an exceptionally rare occurrence, with some estimates stating that only one in 10,000,000 bison were born white.”

Further, Hinkle explains why it’s still uncommon, but not nearly as rare in the modern day.

“Though still rare, the phenomenon is more common due to crossbreeding with cattle as a result of attempts by ranchers to save the species from extinction after original populations plummeted to only a few hundred between 1830 and 1900.”

Takoda the White Bison is New to Herd

Dogwood Canyon also added some context to Takoda’s addition with an Instagram post.

The nature park captions the post:

“Meet Takoda! The newest addition to the Dogwood Canyon family, Takoda is a rare white American bison whose name is Sioux for “friend to everyone.”

“Joining our herd of 25, he will serve as a visual example of the significance of white bison in Indigenous culture and inspire visitors about the delicate balance of conservation.”

For more info about the place of the white bison in Indigenous culture, Jeremy Hinkle touched on that as well.

Representation in Indigenous Culture

A tale says that a Lakota chief asked two boys to find food. Eventually, the pair met a woman who offered them a white buffalo pipe. However, the woman turned into a white buffalo before departing, telling the boys that when one returns, it is a positive sign of good fortune and prayer.

Hinkle further explains that this tale and idea has been passed down over thousands of years.

“According to traditional Native American teachings spanning thousands of years, the white bison is a sacred animal that promotes prayerful communication between Indigenous people and the Great Spirit, while also serving as a sign of peace and good fortune.”