SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A baby bison that died Wednesday after apparently running into a fence in fright while being chased by a small dog showed signs of blunt force trauma, according to San Francisco Zoo officials.

The zoo released the results of a post-mortem exam Thursday that showed the bison suffered three broken ribs, extensive bruising on its left chest wall and sternum and blood within the left chest cavity. In addition, it suffered lacerations to its skin and muscles.

The bison was in good condition outwardly aside from its injuries, zoo officials said.

The bison’s injuries occurred around 9 a.m. Wednesday, when Recreation and Park rangers responded to the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park.

They found a small dog running around a part of the enclosure where seven recently arrived young bison were being quarantined as they adapted to their new surroundings, zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca said.

The dog eventually burrowed under a fence and exited the paddock, likely at the same spot where it came in, park officials said.

Park officials notified the zoo, which is responsible for the bison in partnership with the Recreation and Park Department. The seven young calves were added to the paddock in November.

Zookeepers responded and found that one of the small bison had suffered the laceration to its left side and three broken ribs, LaMarca said.

She said the bison apparently ran into a fence in the enclosure because it was “really upset about the dog that had gotten in there.”

The young animal was briefly taken out of the enclosure but was later returned to the herd, LaMarca said.

But at about 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, officials learned that the bison had died.

The dog handler was found to have five dogs without a leash. The handler, who has not been identified, was cited for animal disturbance and failure to use a leash in a designated on-leash area, park officials said.

There has been a bison herd in Golden Gate Park since 1877, and the herd has been at its current location since 1899. The paddock fencing was upgraded in 2007 and the paddock service area was renovated last fall in preparation for the arrival of the new calves.

Park officials said they plan to investigate how the dog got into the enclosure.


(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (9)
  1. John John G says:

    Prison term for leash law violations! Children, adults and now bisons are killed by those terrorists, who release dogs from leash. it is time to stop that.

    1. Bigbison1955 says:

      The dog owner should have to pay some kind of fine. They’re responsible for the dog’s actions.

  2. phil says:

    Maybe they’re investigation would find that the dog got in the enclosure because he was not on a leash. Investigation over. idiots

  3. Toy Cook says:

    @phil – Yes, the dog being unleashed was part of the cause but does not explain how the dog actually got into the enclosure. Just because a dog is unleashed doesn’t mean it should’ve been able to go into an enclosed space. That is what they are investigating.

    However, the article does say the dog got into the enclosure by burrowing under the fence…….so /shrugs

  4. NRW says:

    Why is the dog handler’s identity being protected? This person willfully broke the law by violating the park’s leash law. His or her criminal act directly caused the injury and subsequent death of the calf. Protecting the identity and failing to charge this person with a crime more serious than a misdemeanor is why people continue to ignore leash laws – they don’t taken them seriously. This person should be charged with at least a low level felony and be required to make monetary restitution to the zoo for the harm done to this calf.

  5. Mark says:

    I’ve been an admirer of the Golden Gate Park bison for over 20 years. This is a sad event. Too bad the Zoo got rid of the large males that used to be in the paddock. I’m sure that dog would’ve been stampeeded!!

  6. suzanne says:

    Poor baby, just fix the fence that’s all.

  7. ray says:

    there or a lot of irresponsible dog owners in san francisco.close the park for dogs and for some two legs ones to.

  8. Rose says:

    People think they’re above the leash law. They think their “adorable” animals should run amok wherever they’re taken and that we have to put up with them and “love” being around them because they’re “entitled” to the same freedoms we are. Give me a break! I’m tired of these “entitled” dogs taking over our parks, let alone our city streets & sidewalks!! And, no, the dog being unleashed is not part of the problem. It is the whole problem, along with the inconsiderate owner & its handler!

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