A white buffalo is sacred to Native American communities. Recently, one such local community helped rescue a near-white buffalo being used as a sideshow at a gas station.
For the last month, and from now on, she will be cared for at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. Starting Friday she can be seen by the public as the refuge's bison herd moves to a more visible pasture.
Just off Buffalo Road, in a gated pasture, the near-white buffalo can be found as the center has slowly been integrating her with the rest of the herd. And while she's white, she's not exactly pure bison.
"Because the animal is not a pure bison, it's created with a genetic manipulation of mixing a cow and a buffalo, or bison," said Rob Denkhaus, natural resource manager for the Nature Center and Refuge.
In the wild, about one in 10 million bison is born white. However, even though Mother Nature didn't play a role here, it is still an exciting addition to one of Fort Worth's hidden gems.
"To have it here on exhibit, and a part of our herd, is a unique opportunity for our educational program," said Denkhaus.
Denkhaus said that the near-white buffalo will allow them to teach visitors and visiting students about their meaning to Native American cultures and even more about bison.
The bison herd at the center has existed for 40 years, since 1973, but this is the first white or near-white buffalo in the herd. And when she arrived, Denkhaus and the staff at the center knew she wouldn't be there only near-white buffalo for long. Either late Saturday night or early Sunday she gave birth to a calf, who's also near-white. The calf's sex has not yet been determined.
"It's wonderful how they multiply that way," Denkhaus joked about doubling the near-white buffalo population.
While mom has been integrating with the herd, she's been very protective of her calf. She stared down Denkhaus and our NBC 5 camera when we came to visit, even looking like she was ready to charge the fence at one point.
"She's being a bison mom right now, which is really encouraging to see," Denkhaus said. "She's highly, highly protective of her calf and that calf is going to be well cared for."
And, more than likely, well seen when the herd heads to the more visible pasture just east of Buffalo Road.
"Yeah, I'm predicting a pretty busy weekend for us," Denkhaus said.
There is an admission cost to enter the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge. On Friday morning the herd will be moved to the east pasture.