Meet Blossom the Blesbok Calf, Born at Belfast Zoo


The flowers at Belfast Zoological Gardens are not the only things ‘blossoming’ this spring, as keepers are celebrating the birth of Blossom, the Blesbok calf. Its father, Basel, arrived in Belfast in 2009 from Africa Alive in Suffolk and was soon joined by mother, Daphne. The pair’s relationship has since ‘blossomed’ and they welcomed their first calf on March 5. 

Blesbok are a species of antelope that are indigenous to the open grasslands of South Africa. This species was first discovered by settlers in the 17th century and their numbers were said to be so huge that they filled the horizon. However, blesbok were hunted for their skin and for meat and by the 19th century they were on the verge of extinction. Protective measures have since been put in place and the population has sufficiently increased to the point that the species has been removed from the endangered list.

Zoo Manager, Mark Challis, said, “The zoo team are all delighted to be playing an active role in the conservation of this beautiful species which has been brought back from the brink of extinction by conservation efforts.  We only became home to blesbok in 2009 and this is the first time that a blesbok has been bred in Ireland.  Let’s hope there will be many more in the future! ”

Mom follows

Photo Credcit: Belfast Zoo

World's Tiniest Antelope Born in Tampa

Lowry Park Zoo Royal Antelope 1

The Royal Antelope is the world's smallest species of antelope, standing only 10-12 inches high as adults, and this little fawn is only about half of that height! Born February 23 at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, the baby appears healthy and mom has proven attentive.

Shy, nocturnal, typically solitary, and obviously mini, it's tough to catch a glimpse of this reclusive species in the wild. However, if you do stumble upon one in an African forest, their slender but powerful get-away sticks allow them to jump up to 8 feet in a single bound!

Lowry Park Zoo Royal Antelope 2

Lowry Park Zoo Royal Antelope 3Photo credits: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

St. Louis Zoo's New Baby Bongo

Bongo CU

The St Louis Zoo has seen a bounty of winter babies in their Hoofed Stock department and this is another addition: a Mountain Bongo. This little male calf named Tundra was one of the last births of 2011, having come into the world on December 27. At his neonatal exam, the calf weighed 52 pounds (23.6 kilos). 

Unlike the more common Bongo, the Mountain Bongo is an endangered subspecies of antelope that lives only in a few pockets of mountain forests in Kenya. This birth is the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Bongo Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program which manages Bongo in AZA zoos.

The new calf can be seen with his mother and herd at the Red Rocks area on warmer days.

Bongo pair

Mom 2
Photo Credit: St. Louis Zoo

To learn more about bongos visit their page on the St.Louis Zoo website.

Speaking of Speke's Gazelles...


A new female Speke's gazelle named Iris was born at the Saint Louis Zoo on January 6. This is the second offspring for mother Lily and father Chip. This birth is the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Speke's Gazelle Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program which manages Speke's gazelles in AZA zoos.

These small antelope are quite endangered in their arid homeland of Somalia. Their pale fawn color blends well with the sandy terrain there. To avoid predators, newborn calves lie motionless in the sparse vegetation, emerging from hiding long enough to nurse. 

The gazelle family can be seen together outside at Red Rocks on warmer days and inside the Antelope House on colder days. You can see in the video below that Iris has been exploring the habitat and getting used to stretching her legs by dodging adults and generally darting around!

CU Spekes w mom

Photo Credit: St. Louis Zoo


Brody the Baby Bongo, Born at the Houston Zoo


There's a new baby Bongo at the Houston Zoo in Texas, and his name is Brody. Born on December 6, Brody weighed just over 40 pounds (18.3 kg). He’s a big healthy boy with a good appetite as evidenced by his current weight 5 weeks later - 92+ pounds (42 kg). He can be seen every day (weather permitting) on exhibit with his 3 year old mom Penelope. His favorite spot for resting and naps is in the front right hand corner of the exhibit.

To the casual observer, all bongo calves look alike. But the zoo's keepers found a perfect way to tell them apart – they count the white stripes on their side. Bongo can have 10 to 14 white stripes on each side and each side can present a different configuration. For instance, Penelope has 11 stripes on each side. 

A bongo is a type of antelope native to the lowlands and mountain forests of Kenya and western Africa and are among the largest of the African forest antelope. In the wild, bongos are shy and elusive but very social. In fact, they are the only forest antelope to form herds.

The Western or lowland bongo is classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the IUCN. The Eastern or mountain bongo is classified as endangered. 



Mom and baby


Photo Credit: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

Eastern Bongo Baby Adds to Critically Endangered Species


There's a new Eastern bongo baby at Zoo Atlanta! First-time mother Matilda delivered this newest ambassador for the critically endangered species on December 2. The calf is the first for Matilda and the Father, Tambo. Both parents are 3 years old.

“Naturally, we’re delighted about any birth here at the Zoo, but Matilda’s calf also illustrates the role zoos can play in wildlife conservation,” said Raymond King, President and CEO. “This is a species on the brink of extinction. Sharing the hope and joy of a new baby helps us educate our guests about these majestic animals and the need to preserve them in the wild.”

Known for their deep reddish coats and magnificent curved horns, bongos are the largest of the African antelope species. Largely due to their elusive nature, the animals were the subjects of legends and superstitions prior to their relatively recent discovery by western science in the 20th century.

Believed to number fewer than 500 in the wild in their native Kenya, eastern bongos face extinction as a result of habitat destruction, poaching and hunting for the bushmeat trade. Matilda and Tambo were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse population within North American Zoos and has reintroduced captive-born bongos to eastern Africa.


Photo Credit: Zoo Atlanta


Special Delivery: Sitatunga Baby at Fort Wayne Children's Zoo


When a baby sitatunga was born the morning of November 10, Fort Wayne Children's Zoo keepers kept a watchful eye on the tiny new calf and his mother, Shiloh. Hoofstock usually stand and nurse within a few hours of birth, but this calf wasn’t able to stay on his feet. “He was too weak to stand, and since he couldn’t stand, he was unable to nurse,” says African Journey Manager Amber Eagleson.

By that afternoon, keepers decided to bottle-feed the calf to help him gain strength. “We bottle-fed him every four hours,” Eagleson says. “At first, he would only take a small amount because he was so weak, but by Friday afternoon he was steadily drinking from the bottle.” 

Shiloh did her part by waiting patiently when her calf was moved to a separate stall at feeding time. When keepers returned the calf to her, she groomed him vigorously to remove all traces of human scent. By Monday, keepers saw the calf nursing for the first time.

“We’re still giving him a bottle and weigh him once a day,” Eagleson says. The calf weighed only 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg)  at birth - significantly less than the other sitatunga calves born at the zoo, but he’s catching up. “If his weight increases over the next week, we’ll drop the bottle feedings and let mom take over completely,” Eagleson says.  She adds that keepers hope to name the baby in the next few weeks.

The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo has had great success breeding these unique marsh-dwelling antelope. Five calves have been born there since 2006.


Weigh in

Curl up
Photo Credits: Fort Wayne Zoo

Busch Gardens Baby Boom!


Busch Gardens’ newest addition, a female Cape Buffalo, was born to mother Semara on Sept. 21. Cape Buffalos are extremely social; members of the same group will stay in direct contact with each other and will often sleep with their heads resting on one another. At the time of his birth, the calf weighed approximately 45 lbs. The playful and explorative youngster now weights 75 lbs. Once full grown, Cape Buffalos can weigh up to 2,000 lbs.




Two days earlier, the park’s Sable Antelope herd welcomed the third new baby of the month, a female who took her first steps within a few minutes of birth. Though Sable Antelopes are shaky at first, newborns can run fast enough to keep up with the herd within 3-5 days.

Photo and video credits: Matt Marriott/Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens’ guests can view all of the new babies from Rhino Rally, the Skyride or Serengeti Express train ride. For an even closer look, the Serengeti Safari offers guests and open-bed truck tour of the 65-acre Serengeti Plain, with opportunities to get up-close to antelope and rhinos and hand-feed giraffes.

Fall Arrival: One Tawny Waterbuck Baby

Water solo

Keepers at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in England were delighted with a new arrival to their herd this month – a baby waterbuck!

The Defassa waterbuck is a large, robust antelope with a long-haired, often shaggy brown/grey coat. Despite its name the Waterbuck is not really aquatic but often takes refuge from predators in water and swamps. Waterbuck give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 9 months. The calves may be born at any time of year, but calving peaks occur in the summer. 

Head Hoofstock Keeper Bob Savill said, "It’s a credit to captive breeding programs like ours when herds can be introduced to protected areas – It proves how important these births are for the continuation of this species and others."


Solo tail

Buck and bro
Photo Credit: Dave Rolfe

Houston Zoo Welcomes Greater Kudu Baby

Kudu 1

This big eared baby kudu was born on Agust 31 in The African Forest at the Houston Zoo. She weighed approximately 15.9 kilos ( 35 pounds) at birth. Her keepers say, "She is bright eyed and quite curious - she's always looking around."

Gestation for Greater kudu is about 9 mo. Her mother, Clementine, has proven to be very good with her baby. "The birth was easy. It started in the afternoon and was all of two hours. And the baby nursed right away," the keeper continued. "The calf is doing well and being slowly introduced to the rest of her herd - dad Alfonzo and female Charlotte and her offspring Apollo".

She has yet to be named. The kudu share the habitat with a trio of Southern White rhinos in The African Forest. The newest member of the kudu family will be out in the exhibit after introductions to the rhinos occur.

Just born

Mom cleans


Under mum


Photo Credit: Stephanie Adams/Houston Zoo

You can view a full photo album on the Houston Zoo's website.

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