A herd of 17 European bison, Bison bonasus — cousins of the American bison, Bison bison, on display at Wolf Park — is being released into the Carpathian mountains in Romania, the first bison to set hoof there in 200 years.
The European bison, Europe’s largest land animal, was driven to extinction in the wild in 1927. However, from 54 individuals remaining in captivity, new populations have grown. Reintroduction programs have been releasing animals into Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, and Kyrgyzstan since the 1950s, resulting in about 3,200 animals now in the wild.
The European bison is just one of several species, including wolves, lynx, beavers and eagles, which are making a comeback across Europe due to conservation efforts, according to a report by the Zoological Society of London.