Beloved Montgomery County Bison, Tatonka, Dies

'Tonk' spent nearly 2 decades as part of the Elmwood Park Zoo's bison exhibit

A suburban Philadelphia zoo is mourning the death of a beloved bison.

Veterinarians at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown euthanized 20-year-old American bison Tatonka Wednesday. Tatonka suffered from pain and discomfort caused by osteoarthritis, the zoo said.

Affectionately known as "Tonk," the bison was born in 1997 at the Trexler Nature Preserve in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. He came to the Montgomery County zoo in 1998.

"Tonk is very loved and he will be greatly missed," zoo executive director Al Zone said. "He is one of the animals I’ve admired the most. As much as he’s big and powerful, he’s also gentle and graceful in ways you wouldn’t expect."

Tonk lived in the zoo’s bison exhibit along with partner Dakota and their two children, Wendy and Francis. Tonk was part of the zoo’s bison feeding program that began in 2014.

"His large size made him a stand out... Although slow and lumbering during the hot summer months, Tatonka often enjoyed running through mounds of snow during winter storms," the zoo said in a news release.

Contact Us