Bongo birth boosts Australasian breeding program
Friday 13th December 2013
Tambo, with mother Djembe
Tambo, with mother Djembe

Taronga Zoo is celebrating the birth of an Eastern Bongo calf, one of rarest antelope species in the world.

Conceived on Valentine’s Day, the male calf was born just after 6am on 29 November to mother Djembe in an uncomplicated birth, watched closely by keepers on closed circuit TV cameras. The calf, now named ‘Tambo’ meaning vigorous, was standing strongly within 30 minutes and suckled after 90 minutes.

The calf is the second for Djembe and father Ekundu, following the birth of female Kiazi in April last year.

“Djembe is a very confident, attentive mother and cleaned the calf as soon as it was born. The birth has also provided a great opportunity for Kiazi to learn good maternal behaviour from her mother,” said Ungulates Keeper, Renae Moss.

Tambo has had time to bond with his mother and sister off display, before coming out onto exhibit for the first time this week.

Eastern (or Highlands) Bongos are Critically Endangered, with less than 100 remaining in the wild in their native habitat of Kenya’s highlands.

One of the last large mammal species to be discovered by scientists and zoologists when first recorded in the mid-1800s, Bongos have a magnificent red-brown hide, with white stripes on the shoulders and back which helps camouflage them in the jungle.

Eastern Bongos are now part of a conservation breeding program, managed across the Australasian region to function as a safety net for the species against the possibility of going extinct in the wild.

“Sadly Eastern Bongo numbers have collapsed due to disease, poaching and habitat destruction. There’s fewer than 100 of these gentle animals left in the wild, so Tambo is an important addition to the Australasian breeding program helping to save the species,” said Renae.

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