The N.C. Zoo has a new baby bongo in its midst - and another is expected soon.
It's exciting news for a species that's considered "critically endangered." The calf, a girl, is the first of its kind born at the zoo, according to a zoo press release.
The birth comes about a year after the zoo in Asheboro, about 90 minutes from the Triangle, added a male bongo to its herd of two female bongos, which have been at the zoo since 2009. The herd is part of the zoo's Watani Grassland Reserve exhibit, which can be seen from various points in the zoo and on its new Zoofari ride.
The bongos, however, have been housed off-exhibit for breeding management, the release says. They should be back on exhibit in spring 2017 when the calves are healthy and inclement winter weather has passed.
The bongo, an herbivorous antelope, is mostly nocturnal and found in the tropical jungles of central Africa. It's among the largest of the African forest antelope species. Males can weigh more than 800 pounds. Bongos have a reddish-brown coat, black and white markings and white-yellow stripes with long, heavy, slightly spiraled horns, according to the release.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, fewer than 200 Eastern bongo existed in the wild in 2008. The numbers have severely declined since then thanks to habitat loss for agriculture and uncontrolled timber cutting, along with poaching for their meat. About 160 also live in North American zoos.