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Farewell to a Beloved Zoo Icon: Saying Goodbye to Boomer the Bison

Feb 17, 2023

Farewell to a Beloved Zoo Icon: Saying Goodbye to Boomer the Bison

Last week, the Sedgwick County Zoo lost a beloved icon, Boomer. Our bull bison of 13.5 years was humanely euthanized during an exam when it was discovered that he had severe health issues from which he could not recover.

Boomer, an American bison, had been with us for over 12 years, impressing visitors with his massive size and stately disposition. He was in charge, and he knew it. He was an exceptionally calm bison who would occasionally display a burst of energy when he played with his favorite toy, the giant Boomer ball that is always on exhibit. In fact, that is how he got his name, as he loved his Boomer ball so much!

He came to us from the Great Bend Zoo as a yearling and at first, we were unsure what his genetic ancestry was. Several years after his arrival, we determined that we needed to grow our bison herd which meant we had to pursue getting bison that did not have cattle genes in their DNA. Knowing this, we were very concerned that Boomer would not be a “pure” bison. Our team waited nervously for weeks for his DNA results to come in, and finally… *drum roll* Boomer was in fact, a pure bison! Since then, Boomer has sired 8 healthy calves to add to the pure bison population with hopefully one or two more on their way that he fathered before he passed away.

Another interesting fact about Boomer is that he was always suspicious when handed food; whether you had been his keeper for years or just met him yesterday. He would either suspiciously smell it in your hand, while eyeing you, and refuse to take it, or he would take it in his mouth and immediately spit it out. Boomer also liked to brush his hair most mornings on a street sweeper brush. You would hear the brush going back and forth in holding after he had finished his morning grain, and wondered what hairdo he would have today … Boy band? Parted in the middle? Out of control and crazy? You just never knew. There was never a dull moment with him around!

Overall, Boomer had a big personality and was a beloved member of the Zoo family. He will be deeply missed by staff and visitors alike.

Check out the American bison page on our website to learn more about their conservation status, location within the Zoo, body size, and more!

About the Authors: Keepers Nancy and Jessie worked together to write this memorial for Boomer, an American Bison of SCZ.

The Painted Dog Research Trust: Preserving a Species HPAI: What is it, and how are we managing it?




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