Because Canada, this 1900-pound pet buffalo rides around in a modified ’79 Pontiac

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From across a field in Spruce Grove, Alberta, the scene is pure science fiction. A shaggy-haired beast of Brobdingnagian proportions stands motionless, effortlessly hovering across the snowy tundra at 55 mph. Squint beyond the flurrying drifts, and you can see the mammoth creature isn’t actually hovering. It’s standing on top of a 1979 Pontiac Parisienne.

This is no dream brought on by a Great Northern bender of Canadian whiskey and maple-glazed beef jerky. This is the story about Bailey Jr., a pet buffalo that enjoys riding in cars. (Don’t we all?)

Jim and Linda Sautner adopted Bailey Jr. from a friend in 2008. In an interview with NPR back in 2011, Jim explained that Bailey Jr. was allowed to sleep in the Sautners’ bed as a young calf. Eventually the buffalo outgrew the house and had to live outside, though he still forced his way in from time to time. “How are you going to stop a 1900-pound buffalo from going where he wants to go?” Jim asked the interviewer. “He’ll lay down in the front room and watch TV.”

buffalo bailey jr sautner alberta
Mexicaans fotomagazijn/Creative Commons

Necessity is the mother of invention. As baby Bailey Jr. grew, Jim could no longer fit the buffalo in the back of his truck. In an effort to keep his furry companion close, Jim modified a Parisienne so that Bailey Jr. could ride shotgun. In a 2012 clip from Animal Planet, the couple explained how they did it. “It took quite a lot of work. We had to remove the windows, the windshield, the back seat, the passenger seat. We took the angle grinder and cut off the roof and left the body flat like a convertible.” Upon completion, Jim and Bailey took the “Baileymobile” everywhere—the bar, the bank, and yes, a china shop.

Bailey Jr. isn’t the first famous buffalo that the Sautners have owned. In the early 2000s, the couple raised Bailey Sr. (no relation) from the bottle to become one of Canada’s most popular bovines, appearing at fairs and beef marketing campaigns as a mascot for the industry during the mad cow disease scare. After Sr.’s death in 2008, the Sautners adopted Bailey Jr. There hasn’t been much in the way of media coverage surrounding Bailey Jr. since the early 2010s, so if you have any updates on his status, let us know.

In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, Jim was asked why he chose to make his car buffalo-friendly. “A lot of people say it’s my age,” joked a graying Jim. “My insanity is growing with my age.” Actually, this whole story seems pretty rational. Life is about enjoying the ride, and it’s always more enjoyable with big, hairy friends.


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