Sparky the Bison Public Domain FWS

Sparky the bison wasn’t expected to live long after rangers found him struck by lightning. They left him standing alone, and let nature take its course, but nearly three years later, the lucky buffalo still roams his prairie home on the range in Iowa.

Sparky, who was given the name after his brush with a thunderbolt, is a bit more lean than other bison his age at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, according to rangers who decided to check back in with him to see how he’s doing.


The bison still shows the scars of where the lightning struck his back, and exited through his hind leg in July, 2013, but despite the wound, he’s still “going strong” says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). He is behaving just like any other bull bison at the refuge.

A FWS biologist kept a watch on him after the lightning strike, prepared to put Sparky down if he began to suffer, but as the weeks turned into months, the bison not only survived, he has thrived since his recovery.

“Sparky has proved us wrong!” the Interior Department declared in a Facebook post.

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Genetic testing shows Sparky fathered three calves in the refuge’s herd before the strike. The refuge managers are hoping another round of tests will show he’s fathered more calves since being struck.

“We’re hoping that he does, because he’s one tough bison!” the FWS announced in a statement.

Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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