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Belfast Zoo in the UK, has welcomed three new additions to the Eastern bongo herd!  Willa and Fern became mothers to Maggie and Ruby in April, while Kimbiri’s calf was named after the month in which she was born in - May. The resident male, Embu, arrived at Belfast Zoo from Chester Zoo in September 2006 and is father to all three calves! 

Eastern bongos are found in the mountain forests of central Kenya. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers the Eastern bongo to be facing a very high risk of extinction; it is estimated that there are as few as 75 to 140 Eastern bongos left in the wild!

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Zoo curator, Andrew Hope, is thrilled with the new arrivals. “The whole zoo team is delighted with the three new Eastern bongo calves and we are especially proud to be playing such an important role in the conservation of such a beautiful and threatened species. We take part in a collaborative breeding program to help protect the Eastern bongo and we have one of the most successful breeding herds in the UK.”

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Photo Credit: Belfast Zoo

Zoo manager, Mark Challis, said, “Experts believe that zoos around the world will play a key role in the survival and future of this important sub-species.  In fact some zoo bred animals are now part of the Bongo Repatriation Program.  In 2004 this pioneering project reintroduced Eastern bongos from American zoos to the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, where the animals have since formed a core breeding group, producing offspring who will eventually be released into the World Heritage Site at Mount Kenya.  Although our three latest arrivals may not be part of this project at present, it definitely shows the conservational importance of these three calves to the future of the sub-species.”

Visitors can help contribute to the care of these endangered animals by adopting an Eastern bongo at Belfast Zoo.