American bison, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
© Enrique Aguirre Aves/Getty Image
The bison is a majestic, massive creature, a true emblem of the American frontier spirit. These sturdy animals have roamed America’s prairies for thousands of years, with a population estimated to be as high as 60 million before 1900. Hunting by settlers decimated the vast herds, and less than 100 years ago, the bison was close to extinction. However, today more than 300,000 bison can be found in North America.
For such large animals, bison are surprisingly agile. They're more than 2 metres tall at their hump and weigh up to 900 kilograms, but they can run up to 56 kilometres per hour, jump high fences and are strong swimmers.