This bison survived a terrifying lightning strike and has a serious battle scar to prove it.
The bull, who was named Sparky after the close call, was struck at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, 25 miles east of Des Moines, Iowa, in July 2013.
The electrical discharge scorched a large section of the bison’s shoulder hump and leg. Rangers feared he would die.
“He was thin after the strike and wasn’t expected to live long,” the U.S. Department of the Interior wrote in a blog post on Thursday.
But he survived and — per the post and newly released photograph — is now 11 years old and still going strong. At 1,600 pounds, he is slightly smaller than the rest of the herd, which he joined in 2006 from the National Bison Range in Montana.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, he’s fathered three calves and officials hope he will reproduce again “because he’s one tough bison.”
Lightning strikes kill an average of 49 people in the U.S. each year, according to the National Weather Service.
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