March 2, 2020

Golden Gate Park to Welcome Five New Bison

The 1-year-old females will be ready for visitors during parkwide 150th Birthday Celebration April 4

Photo 1 Bison Arrival (Credit_ James Watkins).jpg

San Francisco, CA – Golden Gate Park’s Bison Paddock is doubling in size, with the addition of five young female bison that will be introduced to the public during a special welcome ceremony on Saturday, April 4, 2020 as part of a parkwide 150th birthday celebration.

The 1-year-old animals arrived Friday afternoon in Golden Gate Park from the Northern California ranch where they were born. After galloping out of their trailer and having a look around, they trotted over to a chain link fence separating them from the paddock’s five older residents, where both sides regarded each other with curiosity. The youngsters will spend 30 days in their own pasture, separated from the current bison herd, allowing them time to acclimate to their new surroundings and older siblings.  

These are the first new bison added to the paddock in eight years and brings the total number of bison in the paddock to 10 females.  

“We are delighted to welcome these beautiful youngsters to their new home and to introduce them to the public on the park’s 150th anniversary April 4,” said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. “Bison have been part of Golden Gate Park for more than a century and these five new residents connect us to our storied past and represent our exciting future.”

The bison were purchased through a $50,000 donation to the San Francisco Zoological Society by Richard Blum, philanthropist, investment banker, and husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The bison herd is cared for by staff from the San Francisco Zoo, while Recreation and Parks Department gardeners maintain the enclosure.

Photo 2 Bison Arrival (Credit_ James Watkins).jpg

 An emblem of the American west, bison had been driven nearly to extinction by the time Golden Gate Park’s herd was established. These huge, shaggy Great Plains denizens have been a beloved institution in the park since 1892. The herd’s first home was in the park’s eastern end, near where the Music Concourse now stands, but in 1899 they were moved to the Bison Paddock, the meadow where they live today, just west of Spreckels Lake along John F. Kennedy Drive.

 “The San Francisco Zoo and Gardens is proud to continue our long-standing role in providing daily animal and veterinary care to the bison that includes feeding them and monitoring their health” said Jim Nappi, Co-Director of Animal Care at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. “We are thrilled to expand the Golden Gate Park herd with these new yearlings and help share these amazing animals with the public.”

 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of Golden Gate Park.  The yearlong celebration is being organized by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the San Francisco Parks Alliance and brings together more than 150 community partners to honor Golden Gate Park and its past, present and future.  A free parkwide birthday  celebration will take place on Saturday, April 4 -- exactly 150 years after the California Legislature created Golden Gate Park – that will feature more than 150 free events and attractions. They include the opening of a 150-foot observation wheel, a kids carnival, community picnic, a large display of the iconic AIDS Memorial Quilt, live entertainment and free entry into all park museums and cultural centers.  Learn more at

 About the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department: The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department currently manages more than 220 parks, playgrounds and open spaces throughout San Francisco, including two outside city limits—Sharp Park in Pacifica and Camp Mather in the High Sierras. The system includes full-complex recreation centers, swimming pools, golf courses, sports fields and numerous small-to-medium-sized clubhouses that offer a variety of sports- and arts-related recreation programs for people of all ages.  Included in the Department’s responsibilities are Golden Gate Park, Coit Tower, the Marina Yacht Harbor, the San Francisco Zoo and Lake Merced.  In 2017, San Francisco became the first city in the nation where all residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk, a direct result of the Department’s commitment to increasing and improving parkland in the city. Learn more at