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A Talk on the Wild Side.

In Memory of Sparky, the World’s Toughest Bison

Sparky the BisonSparky the bison at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Karen Viste-Sparkman/USFWS

We have some sad news from Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Sparky, the bison that survived a lightning strike in 2013, died this week. Sparky was born at the National Bison Range in Montana and moved to Neal Smith when he was 2 years old. He spent 12 years roaming the Iowa prairie.

Sparky received international attention after surviving a lightning strike in July 2013. Although he was badly scarred for the rest of his life, he remained part of the social structure of the herd and became a symbol for the strength and endurance of his species. Wild bison typically have a lifespan of 15 years, so at 14, Sparky had a full life despite the lightning strike.

Sparky fathered three calves prior to the strike. He will be missed by his many fans. We invite you to join others and share your thoughts and memories of Sparky on Neal Smith’s Facebook page.

 Sparky the bison closeup  A portrait of Sparky in May 2016. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson/USFWS


We will all miss you, Sparky! Thanks for your many years of service!
# Posted By Michael Reed | 3/30/18 10:01 AM

Sparky thanks for adding a little wild to our lives. I don’t know which is more remarkable survining a lightning strike or all those Iowa winters. American bison a truly amazing adaptable animal .
# Posted By | 3/30/18 11:56 AM

what a beautiful majestic animal. To think that they were once brought to the brink of extinction. Thank you to wildlife conservationist and park system for saving the American Bison.
# Posted By | 3/30/18 6:48 PM

Sad, shocking news. We were all electrified by your presence as you bolted across the Iowa prairie.
# Posted By | 8/14/18 1:10 PM
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