EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared in the April-June 1992 edition of Watusi World. Although the mention of actual numbers of animals in the country has changed, we felt that the information contained was worth remembering. We have left off the beginning paragraphs that would no longer be timely.
By: Maureen Neidhardt
In selecting Watusi as breeding stock we also need to keep in mind the original extremely small genetic base. Twenty-one head (14 cows and 7 bulls) were brought from Africa to Europe by the Schulz family (Jurgen Schulz’s father and grandfather) in 1929 with a repeat of this ship load (another 21 head) in 1930. One additional article indicates that another exporter brought out 7 more Watusi cattle in 1939. This makes a total of 49 Watusi of undocumented bloodlines that were EVER brought out of Africa.
These 49 cattle were originally placed in European zoos and then had to endure World War II. Sometime after the war they were spread into Sweden, England, Canada and finally the United States (not arriving in the U.S. until 1973).
Documentation on registration certificates has pinpointed these cattle by their herd of origin as much as possible. Thus bloodlines have gradually been established. The lines of Watusi Cattle in North America are described as follows:
#1 The Catskill Game Farm herd of Catskill, New York. The original Watusi that came to the U.S. were brought in through Canada to Catskill Game Farm. The Game Farm was then owned by Roland Lindermann, it’s originator. Several year ago the Game Farm was purchased by Lindermann’s son-in-law, J. C. Schulz. The Catskill Game Farm herd is still maintained. (EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written in 1992. The Catskill Game Farm has subsequently closed it’s doors, but the results of their breeding can still be found in many of the current animals).
#2 The Rare Animal Survival Center herd of Ocala, Florida. These cattle were kept in a separate herd also owned by Roland Lindermann. Sire selections were made between the two herds from time to time through the years.
#3 The Alberta Game Farm herd of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. To the best of our knowledge when reference is made to this herd they may also be called Al Oming Watusi, Lily Lake Ranches Watusi or Red Barn Watusi. At any rate, they are Canadian bred Watusi. They reflect their cold climate environment in that they are generally heavier bodied animals and often heavier horned than those of the Florida herd.
#4 The Okanagan Game Farm herd of Pentictan, British Colombia, Canada. A second Canadian line of Watusi that also reflect their climatic environment.
#5 Swedish bred Watusi were imported starting in 1980 or 81. There may have been some earlier importations from Sweden that we were not informed of). There were a number of these cattle brought to the U.S. The most well known of these is the immortal “Jimmy the Swede”. The Swedish line brought the very unique color pattern that we have come to know as “Jimmy the Swede” colored. Red bodies with white sides speckled in red, unique white masked faces and very splashy patterns. This pattern appears only in Watusi cattle.
Swedish Watusi cattle appear to have come from two sources which could possibly count as two bloodlines. One being the Stockholm Zoo and the other being Kolmarden’s Djurpark, Kolmarden, Sweden.
#6 English bred Watusi offer additional bloodlines. There have been several sources of Watusi from England such as The Lions of Longleat, Ltd. of Worcestershire; Ravensden Zoo of North Ants, etc.
#7 The Great Adventure Park herd, Jackson, New Jersey are a well known line here in the U.S.
#8 The Memphis Zoo herd, Memphis, Tennessee has also been know for its Watusi line. Their main sire for many years was the son of an Okanagan Game Farm bull known to measure tip to tip over 104 inches. The Memphis Zoo herd has recently been disbursed.
#9 The Oklahoma City Zoo herd provided a bloodlines that shows in a number of pedigrees. This herd was disbursed a few years ago.
#10 Audubon Park and Zoological Garden, New Orleans, LA has been the source of a small number of breeding animals.
#11 Frankfurt Zoo Germany Frankfurt, Germany was a source of Watusi brought into Canada in former years. A unique characteristic of several of these animals has been a mossy green color to the horns.
#12 Berlin Zoo, Berlin, Germany, also a source of Watusi imported into Canada in years gone by.
#13 Florida City Exotics, Florida City, Florida was once a zoo source of Watusi.
#14 Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida has been the source of a number of interesting, colorful very long horned Watusi. (Possibly mostly of Canadian lines.)
#15 Grant’s Farm, St. Louis, Missouri was established by the late August A. Busch, Jr. They maintained a herd of Watusi cattle that were interchanged with Busch Gardens. Breeding stock has also emerged from this herd.
#16 Hacienda Compo Alegre, Texas based ranch belonging to the Rockerfeller family of New York City. Watusi Cattle on this ranch are outstanding individuals derived from Rare Animal Survival Center and Catskill Game farm stock. A colorful imported Swedish bred sire played an important role in this herd around 1980.
#17 Dahlas Rhone, Cozad, Nebraska disbursed of most of his Watusi cattle several years ago. His herd consisted of Canadian lines. A number of breeding animals that are making an impact on the industry came from this herd.
#18 Exotic Animal Paradise, owned by Pat Jones of Springfield, Missouri has played an interesting role as perhaps the earliest upbreeding program established in the country. Foudation Pure bulls of zoo stock were used on Texas longhorn and Scottish highland cows already in the mid 1970’s. These offspring were crossed back to Watusi bulls. The results are a rewarding example to breeders in the Watusi percentage program who may wonder what their ultimate product can be. A number of their Native Pure breeding animals are now being used by the public.
#19 Any omissions to this list or errors in reporting are purely unintentional. There are a number of very serious, dedicated breeders who have made great progress in the strengthenig and preservation of this breed. They have used selective breeding in intermingling of the above mentioned lines to achieve their successes. They are gradually developing their own lines and are truly making WATUSI HISTORY.