A rare Eastern Mountain Bongo calf made his first public appearance today at the Los Angeles Zoo. It is the first bongo born at the zoo since 1995.
The unnamed bongo was born Jan. 20 and weighed 55 pounds. He measured under two feet tall and had ears 6 inches long. He was born to five-year-old mother, Rizzo, and seven-year-old father, Asa.
It spent time bonding with its mother behind the scenes before being introduced to the public.
Fewer than 100 Eastern Mountain Bongos remain in the wild in the dense forests of Mt. Kenya. The large herbivores are characterized by their chestnut-red fur, long spiraling horns, white stripes and big ears.
The baby bongo could grow to 800 pounds and live as long as 20 years.
“It's a true testament to what zoos are doing for conservation,” said Josh Sisk, Curator of Mammals at the LA Zoo.
The Zoo first imported bongos in the 1970s because numbers in the wild were plunging. In 2004, the LA Zoo, together with three other zoos, sent 20 bongos to a wildlife refuge in Kenya. And it continues to support the work of the refuge.
“These are true ambassadors for these species,” he told KPCC. He expressed excitement at being “able to have this offspring for visitors to come and learn about these animals.”
The zoo is considering naming options, including soliciting public input.