We Have a New Bongo!
Just in time for the holidays, the Virginia Zoo received a new Eastern bongo to add to the herd! The two-year-old male, named Bob, came from the Atlanta Zoo.
Immediately after his arrival, Bob was placed in quarantine at the Animal Wellness Campus for 30 days, a standard Zoo protocol for all newly arriving animals. During his stint in quarantine, Bob was measured and weighed, given routine check-ups and examined for his overall health. Once Bob was cleared for any illnesses and deemed healthy, he moved to his new yard in the Africa – Okavango Delta.
In order to prepare the bongo yard for Bob’s arrival, Zoo staff erected a fence to separate the yard into two corridors with gates on opposite ends. This allows the option of separating the group or allowing the bongo to access both yards. Bob was initially given the entire yard to himself for a few days, which gave him time to become familiar with his new surroundings, adjust to the sounds and sights of guests on the boardwalk, and smell that there are other bongos, Egyptian geese and cranes that inhabit the yard. Currently, Bob is separated from the rest of the bongos by the dividing fence until they all get used to being around each other.
The wild bongo population is rapidly diminishing as its habitat is destroyed by human encroachment, and the animals are over-hunted for meat and for their horns. Previously, the Virginia Zoo has participated in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) program to repopulate Kenyan forests with bongo, by sending one of our captive-born calves to a preserve in Africa. The key to their survival, as with all species, is not only to build the population but also to protect their natural habitat so they can thrive. The AZA’s Species Survival Program (SSP) manages breeding programs in accredited zoos to protect the genetic strength and diversity of species in order to promote the survival of endangered animals.
The Virginia Zoo participates in the AZA’s bongo SSP, which Bob will play an important role in here at the Zoo.
Bob has been adjusting very well to his new home, and can even be seen standing near the fence where the other bongos are directly on the other side. Keepers are optimistic that he can be fully introduced to the group within the next few weeks.
Welcome home, Bob!