Potter Park announces birth of critically endangered animal

The zoo has announced its first birth of the season!
The little girl is already showing a "spicy" personality as she bonds with first-time mother Uzuri.
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 11:45 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - On Tuesday, March 8, a female eastern bongo calf was born at Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo, the first bongo born at the zoo since 2014, and the fourth in the zoo’s history.

“It’s been eight years since the zoo welcomed an eastern bongo calf. This is an exciting occasion for the entire staff,” said Animal Care Supervisor Pat Fountain. “We are proud to contribute to this rare population and hope zoo visitors will enjoy watching the bongo family this spring.”

Other Potter Park births: Potter Park Zoo announces birth of two endangered tamarins

Bongos, one of the largest members of the antelope family, stand up for four feet tall at their shoulders and can be over eight feet in length. Their large, outward-facing ears show their adaptation for superior hearing, something necessary in their thick forest habitat where sight can be limited.

Both male and female bongos grow long, spiraling horns, an uncommon occurrence in most of the antelope species where horns are typically exclusive to males. The yet-to-be-named calf’s horns won’t start growing for a few months still.

“With such a precarious situation for this species in the wild, the importance of captive breeding populations to help keep this species from going extinct is increasing and we are excited that Potter Park can contribute to this effort,” said Potter Park Zoo’s Director of Animal Health Dr. Ronan Eustace.

For the time being, the calf is indoors with her mother, Uzuri. Animal care staff say the calf appears healthy and is gaining weight. First-time mother Uzuri is showing to be an excellent mother.

Bongo Facts
  • The newborn calf’s parents, Maverick and Uzuri, were paired as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan.
  • Approximately 300 eastern bongos reside in AZA zoos in the US.
  • The species’ habitat is the remote mountain territory of central Kenya.
  • Only around 100 eastern bongos are believed to remain in the wild, as their ornate horns and vivid coat make them a target for hunters and poachers.


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Female eastern bongo Uzuri welcomed a baby girl on Tuesday, March 8. The yet-to-be-named calf...
Female eastern bongo Uzuri welcomed a baby girl on Tuesday, March 8. The yet-to-be-named calf is the first eastern bongo born at the zoo since 2014, and just the fourth in the zoo's history.(Potter Park Zoo)

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