White Cloud Gives Birth To Albino Calf
By the Associated Press
Sep 05, 2007
JAMESTOWN (AP) - White Cloud, the albino bison that has been a tourist attraction here for 11 years, has given birth to a calf that could be a rare albino as well.
Bob Mountain, the treasurer of the board of Jamestown's National Buffalo Museum, said White Cloud and her calf were spotted for the first time Saturday. The calf is believed to have been born late Friday night. Officials said they did not know whether it is a male or female.
"Nobody has got close enough," Svitlana Rott, a museum spokeswoman, said Tuesday. "We're trying to keep it natural."
White Cloud has been keeping her new baby in the shade. "Once in a while, she comes out," Rott said.
"It has a pink nose and ears, so I think i''s an albino," Mountain said. "But it will be a while before we know for sure."
White Cloud is a DNA-tested albino bison. The calf is her fifth since she joined the Jamestown museum herd 11 years ago.
Officials say the odds of a white calf being born are extremely rare. Many bison born white eventually turn brown.
The odds of White Cloud giving birth to an albino bison are considerably better than normal, however, Mountain said, because she was bred back to her only bull calf, Dakota Thunder. The process, called line breeding, gave her a 50-50 chance she would have a white calf, he said.
"You line breed for certain traits," he said.
Daniel and Jean Shirek, of the northeastern North Dakota town of Michigan, own White Cloud and lease her to the buffalo museum. The Shireks also are joint owners of the new calf with the museum.
The white buffalo is sacred to most Plains Indian tribes and is often seen as a sign of great changes in the world. To some tribes it is a blessing. Others believe it is a sign of peace, prosperity, unity and hope.
The birth of a white calf is a boost for tourism in Jamestown, said Buffalo City Tourism Director Nina Sneider.
"White Cloud has been a tremendous draw for the last 11 years, and I'd guess we'll have even more visitors now," Sneider said. "We get visitors, even in the dead of winter, who want to see her."
Sneider said it doesn't matter whether the calf is an albino or was just born with a white hide; it's still a rarity. Part of the Lakota legend speaks of the white buffalo changing to a brown one as it walked, she said.
CUBANS TO PURCHASE POTATOES FROM NORTH DAKOTA
By JAMES MacPHERSON
Associated Press Writer
North Dakota will ship 100 tons of seed potatoes to Cuba, in time for farmers on the communist island to plant before the end of the year, the state's agricultural commissioner says.
The deal, announced Monday, is the first time Cuba has bought U.S. seed potatoes, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said.
"It's a very small amount - only about $15,000 worth - but it is significant in testing the waters," Johnson said.
Two Cuban inspectors were in the state last week touring seed potato fields in the Red River Valley, in eastern North Dakota, Johnson said. The inspectors will return to North Dakota this fall when the potatoes are shipped out, he added.
The United States has a trade embargo with Cuba, but Congress passed a law in 2001 allowing cash sales of U.S. agricultural goods and medicine to Cuba.
Johnson said he has traveled to Cuba six times in the last six years to push North Dakota farm products. He said the sales of North Dakota peas and lentils to Cuba have totaled about more than $30 million since 2001.
"Every single time I've been to Cuba they've asked about potatoes," Johnson said.
Johnson led an 18-member delegation this spring that included potato growers for the first time. Cuban officials say the country imports as much as 40,000 tons of seed potatoes annually from Canada and Holland, but the country wants to find other sources.
"One flattering aspect of the whole thing is that they're shopping here," said Duane Maatz, president of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association. Our reputation for quality seed is very good - and that's been good for North Dakota."
Potatoes grown for seed are susceptible to disease if grown in warmer climates, Maatz said.
Shipping potato seed from North Dakota is cheaper than sources in Europe, he said."We have the freight advantage over Europe and better standards of quality for viruses than eastern Canada," Maatz said.
North Dakota has more than 180 potato growers but only about three dozen potato seed producers. Growers in the state sold potato seed to Cuba through the 1940s,according to Maatz. "We do have some varieties that work well with their traditions and customs. What we have here is what they want in their food supply."
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