In the Chicago suburbs, these shaggy symbols of Big Sky Country might seem out of place, but they've been at Fermilab since 1969 because of Robert Wilson, the laboratory's first director, who wanted a lasting reminder of Illinois' prairie heritage.
Two years after Wilson brought a bull and four cows, what was then the Illinois Department of Conservation donated 21 more buffalo. By the 1990s, the herd had grown to 160 head, Plese said. Today, there are just 28, many of which are descendants of the first bison at Fermilab.
The animals at Fermilab are plains bison, different from woods bison from Canada, which often have smaller heads and humps. They are contained by an electric fence and an outer fence high enough to thwart their 6-foot vertical leap.
I remember quite a while back that I bought a thermal coffee mug when I visited Fermilab back then, and they were using a bison on the mug as their "mascot". Don't know if they're still using that, but it was cute.