TAMPA, Fla. — This month, ZooTampa welcomed their newest resident with the birth of an endangered Eastern Bongo. It’s estimated that there are less than 100 of this type of antelope left in the wild.
“Our staff is watching, observing every minute of this little girl’s life to make sure she has a healthy, bright future,” said Chris Massaro, Vice President of Animal Care for ZooTampa.
Massaro feels like a new dad himself, witnessing the rapid development of this newborn antelope.
“She was about 40 pounds on day two, so that was a pretty big baby,” said Massaro. “We want to make sure this little girl is hitting all her milestones; she’s up and walking right away, looks good, that she’s nursing, mom is comfortable with her.”
Native to the deep forests of Central Africa, the Eastern Bongo is part of the zoo’s conservation breeding program.
“So we do this with a number of species here at the zoo that need support and need help,” said Massaro. “Any time we can support this animal’s future and population, it’s always a sign of hope.”
However, breeding an endangered species is never easy, so what was the key to getting mom and dad together? Apparently, just a little privacy.
“We gave them additional landscaping areas where they can tuck in and hide, areas where they feel a little more comfortable and secure in the environment,” said Massaro.
As the antelope becomes more familiar with her surroundings, the next step for the zoo staff is giving her a name.
“There might be an opportunity to get the general public involved in it; we haven’t made that decision yet but stay tuned,” said Massaro.
The new baby arrived just in time for ZooTampa’s newest exhibit, coming this summer.
“Expedition Wild Africa, they’ll get a different look, different perspective, and we’ll get to see the new baby bouncing around having a good time,” said Massaro.