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Albino buffalo makes return to Jamestown -- this time mounted

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JAMESTOWN, N.D. --White Cloud, the albino bison, returned to the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown on Tuesday -- this time mounted.

A Jamestown Police Department escort led a truck carrying the completed preservation of White Cloud from the Jamestown Civic Center through downtown to the museum.

The $50,000 preservation project started soon after White Cloud died Nov. 14 at the Shirek Buffalo Ranch near Michigan, N.D.

Tex Weatherly, a member of the National Buffalo Museum board of directors, said the decision to have White Cloud mounted was made before the 19-year-old bison died. The board decided that after spending most of her life with the herd at the National Buffalo Museum, that White Cloud should be preserved after she is gone.

“We knew that someday she was going to pass,” Weatherly said. “This turned out really nice and we’re pretty happy with her.”

Monte Hoggarth, the Jamestown taxidermist who completed the preservation project, said it was a monumental effort when it began. It took 10 days to alter the mount and get the hide to fit.

“Everything came back from the tanner well and she mounted up really good,” Hoggarth said. There was concern about getting White Cloud’s white fur to look natural, but it turned out really nice, he said.

“It was quite an honor to have the museum give me an opportunity to do such a piece like this,” he said. “The community is pretty proud of her and there is the tourism part of it, so people stopping in will be able to see her up close and it’s going to be a good addition to Jamestown.”

Dave and JoAnn Vining donated $30,000 toward the restoration project to get it underway in December. Dave Vining said the couple were asked to make a donation and it seemed to be a good cause for Jamestown.

“People have been donating for years and we thought it was our turn to pitch in,” Vining said. “We thought it (White Cloud’s preservation) was a very nice job.”

White Cloud will be part of a larger exhibit on the significance of the white bison in indigenous cultures, said Ilana Xinos, executive director of the National Buffalo Museum. White Cloud will be seen in a temporary museum setting until the permanent exhibit is completed, she said.

“She’s just really such a special animal and we are really happy to have her back,” Xinos said.

The museum opened on May 1 after a monthlong closing to complete a renovation to the building and has an $8 admission fee. A lobby redesign and a 25-seat theater was added to offer the approximately 25,000 annual visitors a chance to view a 16-minute documentary on the history of the bison prior to viewing the exhibits.

The building received new insulation, and exhibit space is being updated to present a more interactive experience for visitors of all ages.