Naples Zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically endangered Eastern bongo calf. Four-year-old bongo, Amara, gave birth to a male calf at 8:25 am Monday, December 30th. The calf weighs approximately 48 pounds and stands approximately 2 feet tall.
Naples Zoo is proud to report that 2019 was the biggest baby boom the Zoo has ever had in its 50 year history at 15 live births. The births included two critically endangered mountain bongo calves, two endangered clouded leopard kittens, five black and green poison dart frogs, three critically endangered red-ruffed lemur babies and three African lion cubs. This is the first time in over 30 years that lion cubs have been born at the Zoo.
While these births have brought so many smiles and excitement to Zoo guests, their purpose extends much further than the joy they have brought. Four of the five species born at Naples Zoo this year are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). Naples Zoo participates in this national plan to help create sustainable populations of threatened and endangered species.
The newest calf born received a neonatal exam from the Zoo's staff veterinarian, Dr. Lizzy Arnett-Chinn, shortly after birth and was found to be healthy and thriving. Once the calf is following its mother, it will be introduced to its father and brother and the exhibit for public viewing.
This was the second bongo born in 2019 at Naples Zoo. The mother and father of both babies were specifically matched by the SSP based on their ancestry, to create the greatest genetic diversity in the population over the next century. The adult bongos arrived in April of 2018 from two different accredited zoos in Texas to contribute to the future of their species. Naples Zoo is pleased to be a part of this critical program to sustain the Eastern bongo population in Zoos.
Bongos are the largest of the forest antelope, these colorful creatures can weigh between 525 and 880 lbs. In addition to loss of their forest homes, they were hunted out over a century ago in Uganda and only about 100 of these beautiful antelope remain in the wild in Kenya. But while wild populations were declining, accredited zoos had been carefully breeding mountain bongos. And in 2004, accredited zoos returned 18 bongos to the Mt. Kenya Wildlife Conservancy in Africa.