Off the Beaten Path: Almost Inconceivable Albinos | VideoCliff Naylor | 2/10/2013
Now, a whole herd of the genetically unique animals might one day roam the prairie.
What was once thought to be almost inconceivable is now common place in this herd of bison. Six albino buffalo can be traced to Ken Shirek`s ranch.
"The novelty wore off with White Cloud," Shirek said.
Shirek says 17-years ago, when White Cloud appeared, hundreds of people stampeded to his ranch to see something that was then as rare as a total eclipse of the sun.
"Three, four busloads, lots of locals were driving in and out, looking at it. The busloads were Native Americans, mainly Lakota tribes."
White buffalo are sacred to the Sioux Nation and eventually all the people showing up unannounced to see White Cloud prompted Shirek to loan her to the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown. Since then, White Cloud has given birth to two more albinos, and now a couple more are mixed in with the rest of this herd, with possibly more on the way.
"We have been using the white bulls and I know they have done their fair share of breeding, if the genes cross good, then there will be some," Shirek said.
Shirek thinks some day he could have an entire herd of albinos. "If we play our cards right and did a little more selective breeding, yeah, we could have a whole white herd, it`s not impossible now."
Shirek hasn`t decided what to do with the two albinos currently mixed in with the rest of his bison and he`s also unsure if he`ll aggressively pursue breeding an entire herd of white buffalo.
There is a difference between white buffalo and albino bison. True albino buffalo have pink eyes, while white buffalo have brown eyes. All the white bison that have originated from the Michigan, North Dakota, herd are true albinos.