NORFOLK, VA: While most were enjoying their new Christmas toys, two Eastern bongos at the Virginia Zoo were in labor. 12.5-year-old bongo, Juni, gave birth to a male calf on December 26. The calf, who Keepers have named Johnny, weighs 44 pounds and stands approximately 2 feet tall. This is the eighth offspring for Juni and third for father Bob. Juni is an experienced mom and has been taking good care of her new calf.
3-year-old bongo, Jesi, also started showing signs of labor Wednesday. Within an hour, it became evident that Jesi was having trouble and would not be able to give birth to her calf naturally. The Zoo’s Animal Care Team decided that a Cesarean section was the safest option for both mom and calf. Jesi and her female calf, who Keepers are calling Charlie, made it through surgery well. Following the C-section, Jesi was unable to care for her calf so staff stepped in and are bottle feeding her. The first month of life for a hand-raised calf is a very critical time and staff is carefully monitoring her as she grows.
“Jesi had some complications since her C-section, but for now, she is stable and we are continuing to watch her closely,” said Colleen Clabbers, the Virginia Zoo’s Veterinarian. “The calf appears strong and has been eager to take a bottle. Even though the first month is a critical time for her, we are hopeful that she will continue to thrive under our care.” Clabbers added.
Charlie weighs 48 pounds and stands approximately 2 feet tall. The birth of the calves brings the total herd to eight in their exhibit in the Africa – Okavango Delta. Due to the dynamics of these important births and changing weather conditions, there may be a delay in viewing the calves on exhibit. Please stay tuned for any updates on the Zoo’s Facebook page.
Bongo are large-bodied, relatively short-legged antelope with long spiraling horns that make one complete twist from base to tip. In general, the bongo inhabits lowland forest for most of its range; the subspecies in Kenya lives in montane forests at (6,560-9,840 feet) altitude. They have a rich chestnut coat that is striped with thin white vertical lines along the sides. The face and legs have patches of black and white, with white chevrons on the breast and below the eyes. Herds are comprised of females and calves, while males are typically more solitary. Females give birth to one calf per year and the gestation period is nine months. Weaning of the calf occurs at about six months.
About the Virginia Zoo
The Virginia Zoo, located in Norfolk, Virginia is home to more than 500 animals representing over 100 different species. Founded in 1901 and residing on 53 landscaped acres in Lafayette, the Virginia Zoo has demonstrated a commitment to education and conservation for more than a century. The Virginia Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Visit www.virginiazoo.org or call (757) 441-2374 for more information.
Photo: Juni watches over her newborn male calf, Johnny (left) and Charlie, who was born to mom Jesi. Jesi has had some complications since her C-section but is, for now, stable and under close monitoring by Zoo staff.