GALLERY: Naples Zoo has biggest baby boom ever in 2019

Baby bongo born December 30 (Naples Zoo)

The Naples Zoo is celebrating the recent birth of a critically endangered Eastern bongo calf—the final birth in their biggest baby boom EVER!

Four-year-old bongo, Amara, gave birth to the male calf on Monday, Dec. 30 at 8:25 a.m. He weighs about 48 pounds and is approximately two feet tall.

The year of 2019 brought the zoo their biggest baby boom in its 50-year history with 15 live births.

Those births included two critically endangered mountain bongo calves, two endangered clouded leopard kittens, five black and green poison dart frogs, three critically endangered red-ruffed lemur babies and three African lion cubs.

While these births brought much joy to staff and visitors, their purpose extends much further. Four of the five species born at Naples Zoo in 2019 are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP).

Naples Zoo participates in this national plan to help create sustainable populations of threatened and endangered species.

Both bongo calves born came from a mother and father who were specifically matched to “create the greatest genetic diversity in the population over the next century.”

Bongos are the largest of the forest antelope, these colorful creatures can weigh between 525 and 880 lbs. In addition to loss of their forest homes, they were hunted out over a century ago in Uganda and only about 100 of these beautiful antelope remain in the wild in Kenya. But while wild populations were declining, accredited zoos had been carefully breeding mountain bongos. And in 2004, accredited zoos returned 18 bongos to the Mt. Kenya Wildlife Conservancy in Africa. 

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