Eastern Bongo Born at Zoo Atlanta
First-time mother Matilda delivers newest ambassador for critically endangered species
Matilda, a 3-year-old eastern bongo, gave birth to a calf on December 2, 2011. The calf is the first for Matilda and 3-year-old male Tambo.
The newborn is the newest representative of one of the rarest species in residence at Zoo Atlanta. Believed to number fewer than 500 in the wild in their native Kenya, eastern bongos face extinction as a result of habitat destruction, poaching and hunting for the bushmeat trade. Matilda and Tambo were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse population within North American Zoos and has reintroduced captive-born bongos to eastern Africa.
“Naturally, we’re delighted about any birth here at the Zoo, but Matilda’s calf also illustrates the role zoos can play in wildlife conservation,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “This is a species on the brink of extinction. Sharing the hope and joy of a new baby helps us educate our guests about these majestic animals and the need to preserve them in the wild.”
Known for their deep reddish coats and magnificent curved horns, bongos are the largest of the African antelope species. Largely due to their elusive nature, the animals were the subjects of legends and superstitions prior to their relatively recent discovery by western science in the 20th century.