How a Baby Bison Became a TV Star

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Photos by Andrew Jason

He was made famous last year during College GameDay’s first appearance in Fargo. His legacy was cemented in NDSU history this year during GameDay’s second appearance. We’re talking about Corso the bison, of course. The story of how Corso ended up on GameDay is what’s interesting, though.


The Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton was looking to do a live mascot program with NDSU, when the zoo was contacted about a bison farmer who had an abandoned baby bison that needed to be bottle-fed. The Chahinkapa Zoo brought Corso in, not knowing if he would live, and began to bottle feed the baby bison. When GameDay came, everything changed.

“GameDay came and ESPN contacted NDSU, who spoke with us and said that they want to know where to get a bison,” said Chahinkapa Zoo Director Kathy Diekman. “I said, ‘He’s not in the training program, but what would you like?’ They said that they’d like him to go in the back of the Fargo Theatre and stand there and wait while there are 6,000 people, and then we want him to come out on the red carpet with Lee Corso. I went, ‘Well, OK.’”


Everyone knows how the experience went last year. Corso the bison once again made national television with Lee Corso in the back of a horse trailer this year. So how did Corso the bison handle the national exposure again?

“He (Corso) wanted off the trailer to go amongst people,” said Corso’s handler Tom Schmaltz. “He loves being around people, so he was ready to get off the trailer, but he was fine. He just stood there. When we had Lee Corso take the lead rope, I kept one lead rope tucked out of sight. Corso just stood there and I know that Lee Corso was a little concerned when he looked back and saw the size of him. It was a priceless expression on his face.”

How a Baby Bison Became a TV Star
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