Longer legged and less heavily built than its American cousin, the wisent may reach a height of 54 to 60 in. (137–152 cm) at the shoulder, and a weight of more than 1 ton (900 kg). It has brown hair and short upcurved horns. Its hump is less prominent than that of the American bison and its coat less shaggy.
In the wild the wisent is a forest animal; it browses on leaves, ferns, and bark. Females give birth after a gestation period of 9 to 10 months, usually to a single calf. Abundant in Europe in prehistoric times, wisents remained numerous until the early Christian era.
The Wisent has been hunted for their meat and removed from their habitats by farmers. Thus by the 11th century only a few hundred were left alive. By 1927 less than 50 remained. Since the formation of an international protective society in 1932, their numbers have been growing, but they are no longer found outside zoos or reserves.