Żubroń – wisent x domestic cattle



The Żubroń (also known as Zubron) is essentially a hybrid formed from the mating between a wisent and domestic cattle. A wisent (also known as Żubr in Slavic languages) is a European bison. Thus the Żubroń is similar to an American buffalo. A Żubroń is a type of a bovine hybrid. Bovine hybrids are found all over the world apart from the United States. These hybrids result from crosses, which give multi-tasked and very productive animals. Such animals are generally used as beasts of burden, for meat and for subtle curiosity.

About The Żubroń:

From thousands of animal names that were sent to the weekly magazine, Polish Przekrój, the word Żubroń was chosen officially during a contest, which was set up in the year 1969. This hybrid animal was created first in the year 1847 by a person named Leopold Walicki even though former natural creations would have been possible.

After the end of World War 1, several scientists were of the opinion that the Żubroń would be beneficial as a substitute for domestic cattle. The resulting Żubroń that was created was very durable and was extremely resistant to various diseases. In addition, it was possible to breed this hybrid animal on wastelands in the absence of appropriate farm infrastructure and even though the animal husbandry was not well developed then.

Żubrońs are heavy animals. Females have a weight of around 810 kg and males weigh about 1200kg. They are very strong and are immune to harsh weather. Males are generally infertile in the first generation. Females however are fertile and can mate with either wisents or cattle. Males resulting from such backcrosses tend to be fertile.

Since 1958, the Polish Institute Of Sciences continued the research projects on the herds of Żubroń in many laboratories, particularly in Młodzikowo and Białowieża. During the initial sixteen years of research experiments, about 71 animals in all were born, as well as Filon, the earliest Żubroń that was born to a mother who was also a Żubroń in the year 1960.

This hybrid animal was created for being a cheap and durable substitute for cattle. The experimentations continued till about the 1980’s. Thereafter the results of these hybrid breeding experiments turned out to be unsatisfactory.

The following factors played a very important part in the abolishing of the experiments:

1.The harsh economic difficulties faced by the socialist Polish economy in the late 1980’s
2.The lack of interest shown by the ineffective PGR
3.The absence of large private farm lands in the east of Europe
4.Fears that hybrid animals such as Żubrońs would mate with endangered wisent species thereby diluting the gene pool

The two significant centers where the experiments were carried out on the hybrids were Popielno (121 animals) and Łękno (a total of 391 animals). Some experiments were also carried out in USSR in the Askania Nova reserve. The experiments here were however discontinued and presently the only surviving Żubrońs are kept at the Bialowieski National Park.

However some breeding experiments are still being performed in Poland at Karolewo.

One Response to “Żubroń – wisent x domestic cattle”

  1. This was a very interesting article, I know the American buffalo but not much about this animal. thanks for post this.
    Johnny Ray

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