The comic book world is rife with origin stories, too many to be listed here. But for Sparky, the real-life bison pictured with a gnarly scar in the image below, his shocking tale began one fateful day in 2013, when he was relaxing out in the long grass, and then suddenly found himself struck by a bolt of lightning.
Sparky, who was dubbed with that name post lightning strike, began his life on a range in Montana before moving to the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa in 2006, where he’d eventually encounter the fickle wrath of Mother Nature and her sudden electrostatic discharges.
According to a blog post by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife biologist Karen Viste-Sparkman (that last name though) was the first official at Neal Smith to spot Sparky with his injury, and surmised that it must have happened while he was lying down because not only did he get that patch of hair and skin sizzled off his shoulder, he also developed a “a large lump on his hind leg,” which Viste-Sparkman believes served as the exit wound for the strike — if Sparky had been standing, the strike would have not, presumably, exited through his leg.
Sparky also developed what looks like a perfect example of a Lichtenberg figure, which is the stunningly patterned electrical burn that develops on one’s skin following a lightning strike. (Electro would definitely be proud.)
What is most surprising about Sparky’s story however is that the Zeus stab from above didn’t kill him. In fact, officials at Neal Smith noted that he “was thin after the strike and wasn’t expected to live long.” But Sparky is still going strong today, three years after the epic burn, working on his 11th year of life and weighing in at a (relatively svelte) 1,600 pounds. He also walks with a limp now, but something like that is to be expected, as every superhero — or extremely lucky bison — has to take on some kind of baggage from their origin story.
But you know who doesn’t have to deal with any baggage? You! Because you can let us know what you think about Sparky and his story in the comments section below!
Images: Karen Viste-Sparkman/USFWS, James Heilman, MD