Some of the animals depicted in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals thrive today because of Theodore Roosevelt’s efforts. Bison, for example, once numbered in the tens of millions in North America but, slaughtered for their meat and hides, the population was down to about 1,000 animals by the 1880s.
As president, Roosevelt, who had witnessed the decline firsthand while living as a rancher in what is now North Dakota, created two big game preserves to save the buffalo from extinction: Montana’s National Bison Range and Oklahoma’s Wichita Game Preserve, where, in 1907, 15 bison bred at New York’s Bronx Zoo were released with a view to eventually repopulating the prairie. This and subsequent efforts brought the bison back from the brink of extinction.
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Pictured: a sketch model of the American bison and pronghorn diorama. (1939)
© AMNH Library/291072