ASHEBORO, NC –A critically endangered female baby bongo was recently born at the North Carolina Zoo. The calf is the first of its kind born at the Zoo, with another anticipated soon.

The North Carolina Zoo obtained two female bongos in 2009 and eventually received a male in 2015 for breeding. The Zoo’s bongos are part of the Watani Grassland Reserve exhibit but are currently being housed off-exhibit for breeding management. The herd will be back in the habitat in the Spring of 2017 to ensure the calves are healthy and the herd is protected from inclement winter weather.

The North Carolina Zoo manages a small herd of Eastern (or Mountain) bongo. The managed captive population of bongo in North American zoos consists of only about 160 animals in 37 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), along with one non-AZA-member facility.

The Eastern bongo is listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list as “Critically Endangered” and the estimated population in the wild was 200 or below in 2008. This isolated subspecies has declined severely and is only located in four locations in the mountains of Kenya. The ranges for wild bongo populations have shrunk in size due to habitat loss for agriculture and uncontrolled timber cutting. They are also under pressure from poaching for their meat.

The bongo is an herbivorous antelope that is mostly nocturnal. They are found in the tropical jungles of central Africa among the dense undergrowth up to an altitude of 13,000 feet. The bongo is among the largest of the African forest antelope species with males that can weigh over 800 pounds. They are characterized by a striking reddish-brown coat, black and white markings and white-yellow stripes. Both sexes have long, heavy, slightly spiraled horns. Bongos are mostly seen in small groups. Males are typically solitary and groups of females and their young usually number six to eight.


About the North Carolina Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo provides an experience like no other zoo anywhere. With five miles of exhibits, nearly 2,000 animals and 52,000 plants it is the largest natural habitat zoo in the world and an international leader in wildlife conservation.

Find yourself surrounded by some of Africa’s giants including elephants, rhinos, and giraffes; share the love of gorillas with Mosuba and his six-member troop; welcome polar bear Nikita as he joins Anana in polar plunges every day at their Rocky Coast Exhibit; or join in the fun at the mud café in the Kidzone.

Located in center of the state in Asheboro, it is convenient to visit from anywhere in North Carolina. The North Carolina Zoo welcomes nearly 750,000 guests each year. Plan your adventure at


About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources 

The North Carolina Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C.  Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit