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Minnesota Zoo welcomes 2 bison calves

This is one of two newborn bison born recently at the Minnesota Zoo. (Photo from Minnesota Zoo)

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Zoo is welcoming two bison calves.

The zoo is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource to conserve the North American Plains bison. The calves are the first bison calves born at the Apple Valley zoo in 20 years.

Bison have been exhibited at the Minnesota Zoo since 1980. But this past year the zoo has been working with the DNR to cooperatively manage a bison herd at Minnesota state parks and at an exhibition at the zoo.

A herd of nearly 100 bison currently lives at Blue Mounds State Park in southwestern Minnesota. Testing has confirmed that herd is nearly genetically identical to bison that existed prior to European settlement.

Plans call for releasing the zoo's two new calves into Minnesota state parks in fall 2014.