Charlie was weaned at seven months old. A few days later, he was placed
in a corral with two female bison calves to begin his education as
a bison. Veryl and Roger never intended to keep Charlie, but fate
dealt a hand that made Charlie one of the best known and loved bison
that has ever lived.
Charlie got frightened on his first night and ran head on into the steel
corral, paralyzing all four legs. He spent a month in a sling at Colorado
State University, until the inflamed spinal cord in his neck healed enough
for him to learn to walk again. While he made significant recovery, Charlie’s
ability to move normally was permanently impaired and he could no longer
be part of a herd. Roger began hiking with Charlie to help rehabilitate
his loving and fast growing friend.
Charlie never missed his life as a bison. Nothing made him happier than
being with Roger or greeting the hundreds of people that came to visit
him. Charlie became more than a neighborhood icon. For over three years
he was an ambassador for his species.
Ultimately Charlie’s weakened neck contributed to his premature
death. One day Roger found him cast on his side, struggling to rise.
It took the volunteer fire department to get the now 2,000 pound bull
back on his feet. Ruminant’s lungs can fill with fluids when they
are down for a length of time. Charlie contracted pneumonia and in spite
of heroic efforts, he died on August 10, 2003.
Charlie’s memory lives on in bronze. He is also the inspiration
for a full-length book. A BUFFALO IN THE HOUSE, The True Story of a Man, His
Buffalo and American History, by Richard Rosen. The book was published in 2007 and can be purchased from Goodnight Trail Gallery of Western Art.