Eastern Bongo


The largest of forest antelopes, bongos have a stunning chestnut-color coat with an average of 12-14 narrow white stripes. The animal has two heavy, slightly-spiraled horns that are hollow and made of keratin. Bongos can run quickly and gracefully through thick forest cover. They tilt their head up, which causes their horns to lie flat along their back so that brush doesn’t impede their flight. While western bongos are more common, eastern (or mountain) bongos are critically endangered and only found in one remote region of central Kenya. Bongos require a large amount of fresh food year-round, so they are usually found in forests that provide low-level green vegetation.


Bongos are shy animals and are easily frightened. Adult males usually live alone, while mothers and their young may form small groups. Bongos are mostly nocturnal, but are sometimes active during the day, too.

Did You Know?

  • Bongos are the only Tragelaphus (antelope-like animals) in which both sexes have horns.
  • The bongo requires salt in its diet and often visits natural salt licks. They even eat burned wood and lightning-killed trees to obtain salt.
  • The animal’s large ears account for why they rely on their hearing more than sight or smell.

Our Animals

We have 3 bongos at PPZ; a male named Bock who was born in 2003 at Busch Gardens in Florida, Bella, a female who was born in 2008 at Virginia Zoological Park, and Penny, who was born right here at the zoo in 2014. 


Scientific Name Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci
Conservation Status IUCN: Critically Endangered
Size An adult bongo is typically between 3.5 and 4.3 feet in height and about 7 to 10 feet in length. Bongos weigh between 350 and 890 lbs, with males being heavier than females.
Average Lifespan Up to 19 years in the wild and in captivity
Wild Diet The bongo is an herbivorous browser that eats tree leaves, bushes, vines, shrubs and fruits.
Kenya is now the only place in which bongos are found in the wild.