Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens had the perfect way to celebrate the New Year. An Eastern Bongo calf was born late in the afternoon of December 28.
Nearly 18-year-old, Molly, and 10-year-old, Tambo, are the parents to a healthy baby girl who is already delighting guests in her spacious mixed-species habitat along the African Boardwalk exhibit.
While undeniably cute, the baby is also an exciting addition to the Zoo and the Bongo Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program between accredited zoos. Zoo staff is especially thrilled because Molly is an older mom and her last calf was born over eight years ago.
Photo Credits: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The Zoo’s newest addition joins her half-sister who was born to Tambo and Sequoia in June of 2018. An SSP breeding recommendation brought adult male Tambo to the Zoo in March of 2017. This is his sixth offspring.
After receiving a neonatal exam from the Animal Health team, the youngster is cleared to be on exhibit with her mother, father, Aunt Sequoia and the other youngster. Sharing the Bongo enclosure are two Yellow-backed Duikers, a smaller mountain species of African Antelope.
Eastern Bongo are native to the mountains and tropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa. Their critically endangered status is due mainly to a loss of habitat because of logging. Bongos are the largest of the forest antelope and both males and females sport thick, curved horns. At the Zoo, guests can tell the male Tambo apart from the females because of his darker coloring and significantly heavier horns.
Spring means lots of new babies at the Los Angeles Zoo! Guests can now observe two Sichuan Takin calves and two Chacoan Peccary piglets out in their habitats while an Eastern Bongo calf, two Ocelot kittens, and seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns remain behind the scenes bonding with their mothers for a few more weeks.
Peccary/Jamie Pham Takin/Jamie Pham
"The Zoo does tend to see a rise in animal babies each spring, but there is a lot more thought and careful planning that goes into the process than one might think," said Beth Schaefer, General Curator at the Los Angeles Zoo. "A majority of our offspring this season are all members of Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs which aim to keep the North American populations of these species sustainable while also creating an insurance population, so these animals don't disappear from the planet."
One insurance population currently thriving at the L.A. Zoo is a breeding group of Peninsular Pronghorn, a species of antelope native to Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Zoo recently welcomed seven Peninsular Pronghorn fawns, born between March 4 and April 8. In 2002, the L.A. Zoo joined the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in the Vizcaino Desert Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico because the species’ numbers were dwindling in the wild due to hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching.
On April 4, the L.A. Zoo celebrated the birth of two endangered Chacoan Peccary piglets. These medium-sized animals are found primarily in Paraguay and Bolivia, and they have a strong resemblance to pigs. Chacoan peccaries are social animals that live in small herds of up to 10 individuals, and they are known for their tough snouts and rooting abilities. The L.A. Zoo is currently working with the only conservation project in existence for this endangered species called the Chaco Center for the Conservation and Research (CCCI) and hopes to help care for and breed this species whose numbers are dwindling primarily due to habitat loss and hunting.
Virginia Zoo Keepers are delighted to share news of the birth of a baby Bongo. The male calf was born to mom, Betty, on March 23 and weighed-in at 50 pounds. This is the sixth offspring for Betty and the second for father, Bob.
The calf joins a herd that consists of his parents, two other adult females and Joy, the female calf who was born on December 25, 2017.
The Virginia Zoo invited the public to help select a name for the calf, and the winning name was recently announced---Baxter. Baxter and mom, Betty, can now be seen with the rest of their herd on exhibit in the Okavango Delta section of the Zoo.
The Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) is herbivorous and mostly nocturnal. They are a large-bodied, relatively short-legged antelope species with long spiraling horns that make one complete twist from base to tip. They have a rich chestnut coat that is striped with thin white vertical lines along the sides. The face and legs have patches of black and white, with white chevrons on the breast and below the eyes.
In general, the species inhabits lowland forests of Africa. The subspecies in Kenya lives in montane forests at (6,560-9,840 feet) altitude.
Herds are comprised of females and calves, while males are typically more solitary. Females give birth to one calf per year and the gestation period is nine months. Weaning of the calf occurs at about six months.
The Bongo is currently classified as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN. In the last few decades, a rapid decline in numbers has occurred due to poaching and human pressure on their habitat.
The holiday season brought the bountiful gift of Bongos for two U.S. facilities. The Audubon Nature Institute and the Virginia Zoo both ended 2017 with the significant births of two female calves.
The groundbreaking conservation partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global recently welcomed the birth of a baby Eastern Bongo, a critically endangered species of antelope battling for survival in the jungles and forests of Africa.
Just months after its first animals arrived at Audubon’s West Bank campus in Lower Coast Algiers, staffers at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center welcomed the female Bongo calf on the morning of December 11.
Photo Credits: Audubon Nature Institute (Images 1-3; Video) / Virginia Zoo (Images 4-6)
The Bongo is the largest forest-dwelling antelope species and one of the most distinctive, sporting a glossy chestnut or orange colored coat, large ears, eye-catching vertical white stripes and long horns that spiral as high as three feet.
The Audubon Nature Institute/San Diego Zoo Global collaboration – known as the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife – is akin to a modern-day ark designed to preserve species that are vulnerable in the wild and to sustain populations in human care.
There are only about 100 Bongos remaining in the wild, and their numbers continue to dwindle due to habitat loss from illegal logging, hunting and transmission of disease from grazing cattle.
“Zoos may be the last hope for the Eastern Bongo,’’ said Michelle Hatwood, curator of Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center.
“Bongo conservation in the wild is ongoing, but the effort continues to meet many challenges. Audubon Nature Center has joined zoos around the world to make sure this beautiful animal continues to exist.’’
Their Bongo newborn was conceived at Audubon Species Survival Center shortly after its parents arrived in mid-April from San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
Both parents were born in zoos and are part of the Species Survival Plan administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). That plan reviews the animals throughout its accredited facilities and makes recommendations about which should be moved where, given their genetics and personalities and the needs of potential mates at other zoos.
The soon-to-be-named calf weighed in at a healthy 46 pounds, Hatwood said. Both mother, known only as “3,’’ and father, Kibo, are five-years-old and experienced parents.
Hatwood continued, “The mother is displaying all the right behaviors to successfully raise her calf, including making sure curious herd mates behave around the little one.’’
Audubon officials expect their Bongo collection, which now comprises six females and one male, to continue to grow inside the new, four-acre enclosure.
“This is a water-loving, forest antelope,’’ Hatwood said. “And Louisiana has the perfect habitat for this beautiful species to thrive.’’
Once the new calf reaches the age when it would disperse from the herd naturally, Hatwood said the Species Survival Plan would determine the next move.
The Bongo may remain at the Species Survival Center, or it could be sent to another zoo - a decision that will consider both the animal’s needs and the genetic health of the AZA’s zoo population.
“Bongo are one of the first species of antelope I’ve ever gotten the privilege to work with,’’ said Hatwood. “They are secretive, curious and they have a special place in my heart. I hope they continue to flourish in AZA zoos so future generations can fall in love with them too.’’
On April 27, Annakiya, an Eastern Bongo, gave birth to a female calf at Franklin Park Zoo.
The morning after her birth, the 42-pound-calf had her well-baby examination, which included a general physical examination and blood work.
Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health and Conservation Medicine, remarked after the exam, “The calf appears healthy. She is bright, alert and responsive, and is also very strong and active. As with any new birth, we are monitoring the mother and baby closely. Annakiya is an experienced mother and is doing everything a mother bongo should.”
The calf is expected to be on exhibit for short periods of time for Mother’s Day weekend, weather permitting.
Photo Credits: Kayla St. George (Images 1-3) / Zoo New England (Images 4, 5)
The Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus) is herbivorous and mostly nocturnal. It is among the largest of the African forest antelope species.
Bongos are characterized by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings, white-yellow stripes and long slightly spiraled horns (both sexes have horns).
Bongos are classified into two subspecies. The Western or Lowland Bongo (T. e. eurycerus) faces an ongoing population decline, and the IUCN classified it as “Near Threatened” on the conservation status scale.
The Eastern or Mountain Bongo (T. e. isaaci) is found in Kenya. It has a more vibrant coat than the Western Bongo.
The IUCN Antelope Specialist Group has classified the Eastern Bongo as “Critically Endangered”. There are currently more specimens in captivity than in the wild.
Franklin Park Zoo has played a key role in growing the North American captive population through successful breeding. Since 1984, 17 Bongo calves have been born at Franklin Park Zoo.
Zoo New England participates in the Bongo Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. This latest birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Patrick (age 6) and Annakiya (age 14). This is Annakiya’s third calf, but it is her first with Patrick.
Bongos are the largest, and often considered the most beautiful, forest-dwelling antelope found in the rainforests of equatorial Africa. Shy and elusive, Bongos are known for being almost silent as they move through dense forests.
The Cincinnati Zoo is celebrating a baby bonanza – dozens of babies have been born at the zoo in the past few months. In fact, there are so many babies that the zoo is celebrating “Zoo Babies” month in May.
Photo Credit: Cassandre Crawford, Jeff McCurry, Cincinnati Zoo
All the little ones have kept their parents – and zoo keepers – busy. The three female African Lion cubs are particularly feisty, testing their “grrrl” power on a daily basis with their father John and mother Imani.
Other babies include three Bonobos, two Gorillas, a Bongo, a Serval, two Capybaras, a Rough Green Snake, Giant Spiny Leaf Insects, Thorny Devils, Little Penguin chicks and Kea chicks. “This is the largest and most varied group of babies we’ve had. We’re particularly excited about the successes we’ve had with the endangered African Painted Dogs and the hard-to-breed Kea,” said Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Executive Director.
See more photos of Cincinnati's Zoo's babies below.
Taronga Zoo is celebrating the arrival of an Eastern Bongo calf, one of the rarest antelope species in the world.
Photo Credits: Taronga Zoo
Born in the early hours on February 8th, the calf has had time to bond with its mother, off display, before coming out onto exhibit for the first time.
Keepers are yet to determine the sex of the calf, which is the third born to mother, ‘Djembe’, and father, ‘Ekundu’.
“Djembe is a fantastic, protective mother and cleaned the calf as soon as it was born. The calf has already learnt to follow its mother around and was very curious and energetic when exploring its exhibit for the first time,” said Ungulate Keeper, Tracy Roberts.
Tracy said the new calf was an important addition to the Australasian breeding program, helping to save the critically endangered species from extinction.
“Every birth of a healthy calf is important, with fewer than 100 of these gentle animals left in the wild. Sadly Eastern Bongo numbers have collapsed due to poaching, disease and destruction of their native habitat in Kenya’s highlands,” she said.
Taronga is also helping to protect Bongos in the wild through its support of the Bongo Surveillance Project in the highlands of central Kenya. The project monitors herds and individual Bongo movements using visual signs, camera traps and GPS equipment and also combats poaching activities by removing illegal traps and snares.
Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of a rare animal, a female Eastern Bongo calf, on April 2 in the early hours. Keepers watching on closed circuit TV cameras were delighted to witness the perfect maternal instincts that first-time mother Djembe showed in cleaning the newborn. The baby suckled within two hours. She's been named Kiazi, which means sweet potato.
Bongos have a magnificent red-brown hide with white stripes on the shoulders and back that helps to camouflage them in the jungle. Adults can weigh up to 880 pounds (400 kg) and have splendid spiral horns which they lay back along their shoulders by tilting their heads so they can run through their jungle habitat without becoming entangled.
Eastern or Highlands Bongos are listed as Critically Endangered with as few as 75 animals remaining in small groups of 6-12 in their Kenyan upland range. Numbers of the highland Bongo collapsed due to poaching. Sadly there are now more bongos in human care than there are in the wild. Djembe and her calf share the exhibit with Djembe’s mother, Nambala, so for the first time visitors can see three generations of Bongo together.
The Dublin Zoo in Ireland is celebrating the birth of an Eastern Bongo calf, a female born last month to parents Kimba and Sam. She weighed in at a healthy 44 pounds (20kgs). And it looks like half of that was all in her ears!
This is a particularly significant birth for Dublin Zoo as this baby is an important boost to the international breeding programme for this highly endangered species. Only between 75 and 140 eastern bongos exist in the wild.
Team leader Helen Clarke-Bennett, said, “We are thrilled with the arrival of the bongo calf. There is so few of them left in the wild that successful breeding is essential to the survival of this beautiful species."
The St Louis Zoo has seen a bounty of winter babies in their Hoofed Stock department and this is another addition: a Mountain Bongo. This little male calf named Tundra was one of the last births of 2011, having come into the world on December 27. At his neonatal exam, the calf weighed 52 pounds (23.6 kilos).
Unlike the more common Bongo, the Mountain Bongo is an endangered subspecies of antelope that lives only in a few pockets of mountain forests in Kenya. This birth is the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Bongo Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program which manages Bongo in AZA zoos.
The new calf can be seen with his mother and herd at the Red Rocks area on warmer days.