The Risks and Rewards of Growing Up with a Pet Buffalo: A Cautionary Tale

Athena
3 min readSep 18

Introduction

I recently came across news that a woman was caught petting a bison at Yellowstone National Park, and it struck a chord. Growing up, my family owned a pet buffalo named Buffy. She lived alongside our deer, goats, and other animals, and it was a common sight for us to pet and feed her. This incident made me reflect on the risks and responsibilities associated with interacting with large, potentially dangerous animals — both domestic and wild.

My mother with some of our Pets

Life With Buffy: More Than Just A Pet

My brother and I named her Buffy when I was in my early to mid-teens. Our farm was a sanctuary where friends and family would often visit, taking photos of our unique assortment of animals. Ironically, although we have a picture of my mother feeding chickens right in front of Buffy, we don’t have a single photo of anyone petting her.

The Great Escape: When Fences Are Just Suggestions

Buffy was a massive animal, and her power was on full display the night she broke free from her enclosure. Spooked by an owl that had become trapped in our converted corn cob silo-turned-chicken coop, Buffy charged through the fence as if it were mere tissue paper. It took a group of men to return her to her pen, proving that sometimes, fences are less barriers and more “gentle suggestions” for these powerful animals.

A Different Perspective on Safety

Growing up, the idea of collecting eggs or feeding animals in a pen that housed a buffalo was routine. My parents saw no risk in this, despite the inherent dangers. Looking back, even my brother’s horse seemed more menacing, and the most frightening creatures were, believe it or not, geese. Their bites can be painful, and they can become surprisingly aggressive.

Changing Times: A Parent’s Viewpoint

Now, as a parent of three boys and no longer living full-time on a farm, I find it difficult to fathom sending my kids into an enclosure with a buffalo, tame or not. Our largest family pets these days are cats, chickens and a chinchilla. And while I can’t account for the thought…

Athena

Mom of three boys. Computer programmer living in the country with my husband focusing on my hobbies and youngest son. https://ko-fi.com/athenaandrew