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Meet Sparky, the Lighting Surviving Bison

Today I learned about an amazing animal living in Iowa. Sparky is a 12 year-old bison that lives with his herd on the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Des Monis, Iowa. Sparky got his name because he was struck by lighting.

In 2013 Wildlife Biologist Karen Viste-Sparkman was checking on the health of the bison herd in the Refuge. She noted a bison standing on it’s own with what looked at a distance like a bloody wound on it’s back.

When Viste-Sparkman got a closer look she saw that Sparky had burn marks, his hump was missing fur and there was a wound on his leg. It was clear that lighting had struck the animal.

In the aftermath of the strike Sparky was thin and officials didn’t expect him to live long.

Since a lightning strike is something that could easily occur in wild bison anywhere, the refuge let nature take its course. There are no natural predators in the bison area, so injured bison are monitored regularly and euthanized if they’re unable to eat or walk. Sparky was standing when his injuries were discovered, which was a promising sign. Karen kept checking on Sparky and was able to watch his wounds slowly heal. With a limp, Sparky kept walking. -US Fish and Wildlife Service

But, three years later, Sparky “The Electric Bison” is still going strong. He’s become a sort of mascot for the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.

Sources: USA Today, US Fish and Wildlife Service

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