Potter Park Zoo Welcomes Birth of Critically Endangered Eastern Bongo Baby!

Bongo and Bella

Potter Park Zoo welcomed the birth of a female Eastern bongo, a critically endangered antelope-like animal native to central Kenya, as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program.

“We’re proud of this successful bongo birth and pleased to add to the population of these rare animals,” says Dr. Tara Harrison, veterinarian at Potter Park Zoo. “Our Eastern bongos allow visitors of the zoo to see an animal they would almost never be able to see in the wild.”

The female bongo was born July 25, 2013 and marks the second bongo calf to be born at Potter Park Zoo in the last two years, and she brings the zoo’s bongo population to five. She’s joins her mother Bella, father Bock, brother Beau and friend Phoebe at the zoo.

Ron Surratt, program leader for the Eastern Bongo Species Survival Plan, said they manage around 130 bongo with 100 percent known genetics.

“The birth of an Eastern (Mountain) bongo calf is very significant as this species may have as few as 100 animals left in the wild,” he said. “The captive population of bongo serve as a hedge against extinction for the species. My congratulations to the staff at the Potter Park Zoo for this significant birth.”

Surratt added that there are efforts underway in Kenya intended to boost the genetics of the wild population from a captive breeding facility at the Mount Keny+a Wildlife Conservancy.

Eastern bongos are critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and they are found exclusively in a remote region in central Kenya. They are the only Tragelaphus (antelope-like animals) in which both sexes have horns, and it’s because of their horns that they are hunted by humans. There are believed to be approximately 365 bongos in accredited institutions in North America as part of the AZA Species Survival Plan program.

Potter Park Zoo will be doing a social media poll to help name the baby bongo. Tweet and post on the Potter Park Zoo Facebook page name suggestions – Potter Park Zoo staff will be taking your suggestions for naming the new bongo.

The baby bongo and her mother, Bella, recently joined Bock, Phoebe and Beau, and are currently on exhibit!

Bongo Bongo and Bella