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Jacksonville Zoo Celebrates Birth Of 2 Endangered Bongo Calves

Two female eastern bongo calves have been born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Sienna is the mother of the first calf born, who weighed 42 pounds at her neonatal exam on Dec. 22. Shimba is the mother to the second calf, who weighed 38 pounds at her exam on Jan. 11.  

The births were announced publicly Thursday in a news release sent to WJCT News.

“Our animal care team is very excited with how well the first-time mothers are doing. This is great news for our herd and we look forward to more offspring in the future to enhance conservation efforts for this species,” said Assistant Curator of Mammals Corey Neatrour. 

The sire of the new arrivals is Mickey, who came to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in October 2019 from Cape May County Zoo.

These are the first offspring for both dams, Sienna and Shimba, as well as the sire, Mickey. 

Bongo - which are critically endangered due to deforestation, hunting and other human activities - are the largest African forest antelope and are known for their striking appearance.

They are found throughout central and west Kenya, however eastern bongo, also known as mountain bongo, are only found in a small mountain region in central Kenya, according to the zoo.

Both males and females have thick, slightly-spiraled horns. They have whitish-colored stripes and a red coat, with females usually being lighter in color than males. 

The calves’ names will be decided at an online auction at the zoo’s annual Toast to Conservation, which will take place virtually Friday, Jan. 29 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. General viewing tickets are free with additional information available here.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.