Bongos are a type of antelope native to tropical rainforest environments in central Africa, particularly Kenya. In recent years, numbers of bongos in the wild have plummeted dramatically due to habitat loss, introduction of new diseases and widespread poaching. The Bongo Surveillance Project in Kenya estimates there are only 140 bongos remaining in the wild, though others estimate the number may be even less than 100.
Because of the critical status, conservation groups and zoos around the world are hard at work trying to preserve the species. The L.A. Zoo has made breeding baby bongos in captivity a goal, and this birth represents their first success in that project. He is the first bongo to be born at the zoo in more than 20 years.
“This birth is a true testament to the work zoos are doing to sustain critically endangered species,” Josh Sisk, curator of mammals for the L.A. Zoo, wrote in a statement about the new arrival.
The baby bongo is the child of Rizzo and Asa, but doesn’t have a name of his own just yet. He was born in January, which is customary for bongo births, which typically only take place in December and January of each year, and has been hanging out with his mom off view while getting ready for visitors. Now he’ll join his parents and the rest of the Zoo’s bongo herd (that would be two additional females, Frenchy and Sandy). The newborn is a teeny 55 pounds right now; full grown male bongos weigh in around 800.
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