A true white buffalo happens only once every ten million births, according to the National Bison Association, but many white buffalo in North America result from breading a buffalo with cattle (sometimes referred to as bison hybrid, beefalo or cattalo). Breeding the buffalo with cattle has been a serious setback to wild American bison conservation. Most current bison herds are genetically polluted or partly crossbred with cattle leaving only four genetically unmixed American bison herds left. One of these herds is kept at the Fort Worth Nature Center near Fort Worth, Texas. The crossbred herd vary in type and color, depending on the breed of cattle used [e.g. Herefords and Charolais (beef cattle), Holsteins (dairy) or Brahman (humped cattle)]. Buffalo bred with Charolais cattle produce a much lighter colored calf sometimes almost white.
Such was the case for a buffalo raised on the Wild Side Ranch in South Texas. The calf, later named Lone Star, was the result of breeding a white hybrid buffalo. In February of 2013, John Benda rented the four-year-old pregnant cow [dam] to add to his collection of Long Horns, donkeys, and horses on display at his large gas station and convenience store, Fuel City, near downtown Dallas. “I wanted people to see what Dallas looked like before it was a city,” he said, ““I’ve always been enchanted with them [buffalo]. They’re such unique creatures.”
An estimated 5,000 people visit Fuel City per day to purchase gas, get their car washed, or enjoy an inexpensive taco that many believe are the best in Texas. And while there, they get a chance to observe his small 8-acre ranch with around ten animals. “They really get the four-star treatment here,” he said. “It’s a Shangri-La for the animals.”
But, some Native Americans and “Friends of Animals” members had a different opinion. [quoting from a report in Indian Country Today Media Network] “J. Eric Reed is a Dallas attorney, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and a former tribal attorney and prosecutor for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. He talked of the location where the animal was on display. “Basically there’s a fenced in area and drainage ditch on the back side of a levee on the Trinity River.” It’s in one of the busiest areas of downtown Dallas. “You could tell [from TV coverage] the animal was distressed. You could tell there was some stress.”
““Even if you’re not a Lakota or Great Plains Indian, the buffalo is still an iconic symbol, not just as a Native but an American icon and you have respect for it,” Reed said. “We [Choctaw] did not get the same creation story as the White Buffalo Calf Maiden but we still hold the animal as a sacred animal and wouldn’t do anything to disrespect it.””
[from the Dallas Morning News] “It’s important to educate the public about our way of life,” said Yolanda Blue Horse of Denton, who is a part of the Rosebud Sioux tribe. “Sacred things like the white buffalo are not to be used as a sideshow or carnival act. It needs to be respected.”
“Everything was fine. The buffalo was really happy there and has a nice disposition,” he said. “I didn’t want it to become negative, but I felt like the situation couldn’t be rescued.”
By all accounts, Benda was anxious to do the right thing and sympathetic with the feelings of Native Americans concerned about Lone Star. He offered to return the animal to the Wild Side Ranch, but fears were expressed that Lone Star might be hunted as a trophy for some wealthy hunter at that ranch. So, Benda purchased the buffalo and donated it to the Red Path Warrior Society. Eric Reed, a member of the society, helped to arrange for Lone Star to be added to the “pure bison” herd at the Fort Worth Nature Center. Ironically, Lone Star and her white calf are not likely pure bison but since she is a cow, she will not be a threat to the pure bison herd as long as the center monitors her offspring and keeps them separate from the pure bred.
Lone Star and her calf, not being pure, are still held in high esteem by Native Americans. All the parties seemed to agree that this was a rare happy ending for these two white buffalo.