It’s always a special day at a zoo when a new baby animal is born, especially when they are a part of an endangered species. Each new birth is an important step towards ensuring the species’ future survival.
Now, one zoo is celebrating the birth of an adorable eastern bongo, a critically endangered species.
Potter Park Zoo, in Lansing, Michigan, recently announced that a female eastern bongo was born at the zoo on March 5 to a mother named Uzuri. The newborn calf is the fifth eastern bongo born in the zoo’s history and only the second since 2014.
The eastern bongo is a species of antelope native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are the third-largest antelope in the world, distinguished by their white-yellow stripes and long, spiraling horns.
The species is listed by IUCN as critically endangered, threatened in the wild by logging and poaching. There are now fewer eastern bongos left in the wild than in captivity.
Given their rarity, the zoo says the birth is good news for this very vulnerable species. “Bongo are critically endangered, so each birth is special,” Potter Park Zoo’s Director of Animal Health Dr. Ronan Eustace said in a press release. “The calf appears healthy and the mother has raised calves successfully in the past.”
There are now about 300 eastern bongos in AZA-accredited zoos in the US, and Potter Park Zoo says breeding programs like theirs “play an essential role in preventing their extinction.”
The eastern bongo is a unique and beautiful species. Both female and male eastern bongos grow their distinct horns, a rarity in antelope species. The zoo says they also have impressive hearing abilities.
The new arrival is likely a bittersweet moment for the zoo, who just this week suffered the loss of one of their oldest eastern bongos, Bella. In a Facebook post they say that Bella was 14-and-a-half-years-old at the time of her death, well past the median life expectancy of a bongo in human care.
The newborn calf is currently bonding with her mother indoors, and animal care staff say she is healthy and gaining weight. While she’s behind-the-scenes right now, zoo visitors will be able to see the newborn in the near future.
They write that they hope the exciting news of her birth will “inspire more people to act in protecting and conserving endangered species like the eastern bongo.”
What an adorable newborn eastern bongo, and an inspiring sign of hope for this critically endangered species!
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