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Blind bison draws crowd at her new Oregon home

Helen, a blind bison, enjoys a snack at the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Scio, Ore. (Associated Press)
Helen, a blind bison, enjoys a snack at the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in Scio, Ore. (Associated Press)
Carol Mcalice Currie Salem Statesman Journal

SCIO, Ore. – He gave her a home, and now she roams with pigs and goats.

Helen, a 14-year-old blind American bison who needed new digs in August after her former one-and-only owner could no longer care for her, is adjusting to a verdant new pasture in Scio since one community member read about her plight and offered her shelter.

And Saturday, under the watchful eye and care of Wayne Geiger, the executive director of the Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary who worked feverishly to ease Helen’s transition, the public got its first chance to see the blind bison up close.

Gusting wind and rain didn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm for the ungulate. Geiger said more than 200 people braved stormy weather to see the gentle giant, which now feeds peacefully on the sanctuary’s property along with other rescued animals, including ducks, pigs, donkeys, stallions, dogs and llamas.

The guests brought highly sought-after gifts: namely apples and carrots. One sanctuary supporter even made her a “cake” of squash, oatmeal and apples. Helen wasted no time tucking into it, to the delight of the crowd.

Some visitors had the opportunity to pet Helen over her fence, and the bison handled the attention well.

“She was marvelous,” Geiger said. “Really remarkable. The weather didn’t bother her or anyone else.”

Helen’s original owner, Lisa Miller, adopted the bison when it was just 4 days old and scheduled to be euthanized because of her blindness.

Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary took over Helen’s care after Miller was injured in an automobile accident and could no longer care for the bison.

“The crowd really loved seeing her,” Geiger said. “And we had several people fill out volunteer applications and even adoption paperwork. So it was a really nice day all around.”

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