Good luck finding a bison that had more bad luck than this one.
Back in 2010, a bison at Yellowstone National Park had what was probably the worst day in the history of animal existence. Just imagine the worst possible way for a bison to meet its maker, and then multiply that by 1000. That’s how bad this bison had it at the end of its life.
The first thing to go wrong for the bison was falling into one of Yellowstone’s famous hot springs. If you didn’t know, these geothermal springs hold water that makes calling it a “hot spring” an understatement. The water within, which travels up from deep within the Earth’s crust, is literally boiling at 198 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling point at Yellowstone’s altitude).
In case you haven’t ever seen one, here’s the Grand Prismatic Spring located within Yellowstone National Park:
The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the world (bigger than a football field at 370 feet in diameter).
We don’t know if the bison fell into this one specifically, but we do know that it fell into one of the many that is scattered across Yellowstone. Considering that a grizzly bear was in hot pursuit of the bison shortly after it fell into the spring, there’s a chance that the bruin was partially responsible for guiding the bison to take a deadly dip in the scorching hot water.
The photo below shows the scalded bison fleeing from the grizzly bear right on its tail. You can see that the bison unfortunately suffered a number of severe burns to its legs and body, and despite that, was still having to run for its life from a grizzly (that was probably getting a sniff of freshly cooked/steam bison). The bison had to be thinking:
“Lord, take me now. Stop giving me your toughest battles. I am not your strongest soldier.”
According to a conversation with Alex Wypyszinski, the amateur photographer who captured the photo, the chase somehow ended with the bison making it out alive, which is honestly very surprising. I’m guessing the grizzly bear lost interest (or just kind of felt bad) in the bison and decided to move on to another hunt. So, the big ole beast made it through two really rough situations that bison themselves would never wish upon even their worst enemies (except for maybe the grizzly that chased this bison specifically, he was kind of an ass).
Alex told Field & Stream:
“That’s one of my favorite drives every morning and I stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture of the geysers off on the other end of a big meadow, and then I heard the animals before I saw them. At first I had a hard time figuring out what they were. I figured it was a couple of moose, possibly.
Pretty quickly it became apparent what it was, though it took a while for it to register with that animal as badly injured as it was.”
He suspected that it fell into one Yellowstone’s iconic thermal pools, before adding that he couldn’t even believe his eyes:
“That’s the only thing that could have done that much damage to the animal. It probably fell into a pool. To be truthful, I was thinking, ‘Maybe I’m having some kind of hallucination or something,’ because I had never seen anything like that.”
However, the poor bison was euthanized the following day by Yellowstone park rangers due to the injuries that it suffered from the hot springs. There’s a possibility they looked into nursing it back to health, but its burns and injuries must have been too much for the bison to overcome. Props to the bison though for battling it out and being one of the toughest animals to ever live on this planet while it was still kicking.
You can take a look at the gruesome picture that was captured below: