Taronga Zoo is home to three beautiful Eastern Bongo (also known as Mountain Bongo), the youngest of which has recently become a fully fledged member of Taronga.
Our young male Tambo, who is almost one year old, was finally old enough to undergo a minor procedure in order to take routine blood samples, have skin tests and be microchipped.
Most zoo animals can be checked in this way when they are newly born and easy to handle, but Bongos are incredibly shy animals so it was decided to delay this check up until Tambo was older in order to eliminate any possible stress on his mother Djembe.
Tambo underwent months of training leading up to his procedure, so his keepers could build up a rapport to allow them to hand-inject him with a light sedative so he remained calm throughout this process.
Keepers and veterinary staff did an excellent job on the day and Tambo was reunited with his mother soon after. Tambo is now back on display with Djembe and he is happily showing off the shaved areas on his neck from where he had his skin tests.
Eastern Bongo are a large species of forest-dwelling antelope native to the central highlands of Kenya. There are only around 100 of them left in the wild, making them critically endangered.
These elusive herbivores prefer forest habitats that offer natural clearings for grazing. They are often solitary, but can be found in small groups and do most of their feeding at night. Numbers have declined rapidly in recent years due to habitat loss (in the form of deforestation and development) and because they are hunted for their striking pelts and impressive horns.
Zoos around the world are home to around 600 Eastern Bongo, which form an important insurance population. An international studbook is kept to manage the movements and breeding of this species to ensure their genetic diversity is maintained, should these animals ever become extinct in the wild and need to be re-introduced.
- Ungulate Keeper, Johny Wade