NEW BEDFORD — The Buttonwood Park Zoo is saddened to announce the death of Grace, one of the Zoo’s two female bison. Grace was 19 years old.

Over the last few weeks, the Zoo’s animal care team observed Grace’s lack of appetite and deteriorating health. Zoo veterinary staff performed exams and blood work, but after several weeks of continued issues it was determined that Grace’s quality of life would not improve, and the difficult decision was made to humanely euthanize her.

Grace was one of three bison that were brought to the Zoo in July of 2000. Sarah, George and Grace were all originally from the Alta Vista Farm in Rutledge, MA.

“Grace was named for her graceful exit from the trailer into the bison habitat," Assisant Zoo Director Shara Crook said. "Upon exiting the trailer she stumbled but gracefully caught herself and kept right on moving.”

Zoo Director, Keith Lovett stated a necropsy has been performed on Grace to determine the exact cause of her declining health, and expects the results to be back in the next few weeks.

"Bison are an iconic North American species and the Zoo has a long history of caring for these majestic animals," Lovett said. "Grace will be sorely missed by both Zoo guests and Buttonwood staff.”

During her time at the Buttonwood Park Zoo, Grace gave birth to three bull calves: Yazhi in 2002, Bogart in 2004 and Charlie Brown in 2005. All three were sired by George. Grace, at 19 years old, surpassed the life expectancy of bison, which is between 10-15 years in their wild range.

Bison became the national mammal of the United States in 2015 when Congress passed the National Bison Legacy Act. Bison are listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Bison numbers declined in the 1800s due to hunting; today bison population numbers remain low even with conservation efforts and national protections.

--Buttonwood Park Zoo