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Yellowstone’s mystical white bison is missing weeks after historic birth


Well, that can’t be a good omen.

Yellowstone National Park’s mystical white bison calf — which fulfills a Native American prophecy of prosperity to come — is missing.

Wakan Gli, which means “Return Sacred” in Lakota, has not been seen since its birth on June 4, the National Parks Service said Friday.

“To date, park staff have been unable to locate the calf,” the agency said in a statement.

The tiny prophecy was first spotted earlier this month grazing a field in the lush Lamar Valley, sticking close to its mother.

Wakan Gli, which means “Return Sacred” in Lakota, has not been seen since its birth on June 4, the National Parks Service said Friday. AP

Park officials declined to comment on where the rare white bovine could have gone since its first and only sighting, but said in the release that each spring, about one in five calves die shortly after birth due to natural hazards.

It can hopefully be assumed that little Waka Gli is alive, considering officials haven’t seen the animal dead or alive.

NPS’s statement comes just days after hundreds attended a Lakota tribe naming ceremony for the bison, where they bestowed the name Wakan Gli onto the absentee honoree.

Park officials declined to comment on where the rare white bovine could have gone since its first and only sighting. AP
The young bovine can hopefully be assumed that little Waka Gli is alive, considering officials haven’t seen the animal dead or alive. AP
Hundreds attended a Lakota tribe naming ceremony for the bison, where they bestowed the name Wakan Gli onto the absentee honoree on June 26, 2024. AP

The Wednesday event, complete with drumming, dancing and moving speeches, commemorated the fulfillment of sacred prophecy and a message to take better care of the Earth.

“It’s up to each and every one of you to make it happen for the future of our children. We must come together and bring that good energy back,” Chief Arvol Looking Horse told the crowds.

The bison is extraordinarily rare, with one born in the wild in every 1 million births — and marks the first in Yellowstone National Park’s recorded history.

While NPS officials have yet to see the mystical creature with their own eyes, the agency said the trove of pictures taken by lucky hikers and tour groups have confirmed that the calf had been born that same day.

Workers remain optimistic about Waka Gli’s fate. Mike Mease, a co-founder of the Buffalo Field Campaign, a conservation group that works with tribes to protect wild buffalo, suspects the calf is hiding away from the roads and walkways most tourists stick to.

Charlene Hollow Horn Bear and Keith Ryder take down a buffalo hide painted with a depiction of a white buffalo calf after a naming ceremony on June 26, 2024. AP
The Wednesday event, complete with drumming, dancing and moving speeches, commemorated the fulfillment of sacred prophecy and a message to take better care of the Earth. AP
While NPS officials have yet to see the mystical creature with their own eyes, the agency said the trove of pictures taken by lucky hikers and tour groups have confirmed that the calf had been born that same day. AP

But the most important thing about the white buffalo is that a prophecy, which is both a warning and a blessing, has been fulfilled, Mease told the Associated Press.

“Whether it’s dead or alive, the message has been relayed from the heavens and times are different now. We have to make changes for the future,” he said.



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