A state park in the southwest corner of Wyoming has welcomed an ultra-rare new member of the community — a tiny, fuzzy white bison.
Wyoming State Parks shared a photo of the new calf and its mother, which reside at Bear River State Park in Evanston, on May 16. Officials from the park told Cowboy State Daily that the white bison calf was born weighing 30 pounds, which is small, but that it's doing well. At the time the newspaper spoke with officials on May 17, the calf's name and sex were not yet known.
"We're not sure if it's a bull calf or a heifer calf," park superintendent Tyfani Sager told the newspaper. "They're real furry and it's hard to tell right off the bat."
CBS News has reached out to the park for more information.
Bear River State Park clarified on Facebook that the bison is not albino — it just has a rare genetic makeup giving it white fur. The park got two white bison heifers in 2021, and the new calf's mother, Wyoming Hope, was bred by a resident bull at the site. The new calf is the first white bison to be born at the park.
"Most of the bison you find anymore have some cattle genetics," Sager told Cowboy State Daily. "They were nearly hunted to extinction by the late 1800s. People got concerned about extinction and cattle inbreeding was used. A white bison birth is still fairly rare."
It's so rare, in fact, that the National Bison Association told CBS affiliate KUTV that it's a 1-in-10-million event. It's also celebrated by some Indigenous groups.
According to the National Parks Service, a white buffalo calf is "the most sacred living thing on Earth" to some Native American tribes, including the Sioux, Cherokee, Navajo, Lakota and Dakota.
"Some American Indians say the birth of a white calf is an omen because the birth takes place in the most unexpected places and often happens among the poorest of people," the service said. "The birth is sacred within the American Indian communities, because it brings a sense of hope and is a sign that good times are about to happen."