Monday, August 6, 2012

Matilda the Eastern Bongo is Expecting

Beauregard’s younger sibling will be the newest ambassador for one of Earth’s rarest mammal species

Matilda, a 4-year-old eastern bongo at Zoo Atlanta, is expecting her second calf. While the date of conception is uncertain, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams estimate that her birth window could be as early as December 2012. Bongo gestation is nine months.

Matilda and her mate, 4-year-old Tambo, were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse population within North American zoos and has reintroduced captive-born bongos to eastern Africa. The pair’s first offspring, male Beauregard, born December 2, 2011, was the first bongo born at Zoo Atlanta.

Eastern bongos are critically endangered, with fewer than 500 believed to remain in the wild in their native Kenya. Habitat destruction, poaching and hunting for the bushmeat trade are the primary threats to these large forest antelopes, which are known for their deep, striped reddish coats and magnificent curved horns in both males and females.

“We’re delighted that Matilda is expecting a second calf. Bongos are some of the rarest mammals at Zoo Atlanta, and any healthy new addition is a celebration for such a critically endangered species,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “We also find that our guests tend to be less familiar with this species than they are with many of the other large mammals at the Zoo, so we welcome any opportunity to introduce our visitors to these beautiful animals and the challenges they face in the wild.”

Matilda has been trained to participate in voluntary ultrasounds so that the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams may regularly monitor the development of her calf. Stay tuned for updates as her pregnancy progresses.

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