Beds, Herts & Bucks

Woburn Safari Park celebrates rare bongo antelopes' birth

Pair of Bongos Image copyright Woburn Safari Park
Image caption Only two other sets of bongo twins born in captivity have survived in zoos worldwide

The birth of twin East African bongo antelopes is "fantastic news" for the "critically endangered" species, say conservationists.

The female calves, born at Woburn Safari Park, Bedfordshire, are seen as "vitally important" to the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

Experts believe there are fewer than 100 bongos now living in the wild.

A park spokesman said only two other sets of bongo twins born in captivity have ever survived in zoos worldwide.

The pair were born to nine-year-old Millie, in the reserve's 14-acre woodland habitat.

Image caption Bongos are shy and reclusive animals despite their bold appearance
Image copyright Woburn Safari Park
Image caption The twins are "already exploring their woodland home with the herd", said the safari park

Keeper Chris Smart, said: "The arrival of these two new calves is not only fantastic news for the park, but also for the EEP as births of bongo calves last year were predominantly male.

"These calves are particularly beautiful. With so few left in the wild, they are extremely important for the conservation of the species."

Bongo antelope facts

  • The bongo is confined to isolated populations of forest on Mt. Kenya, the Mau and Eburu forests and the Aberdares
  • They live in dense tropical forest, elevated regions and bamboo forests
  • An adult bongo will measure between 110 to 130cm (43 to 51in) to the shoulder
  • They feed on grasses, roots and shrubs
  • Bongos are threatened by poaching and illegal trapping

Source: Woburn Safari Park

Born on 3 August, historically there have only been 15 sets of bongo twins born in captivity and only two sets have survived, said the safari park.

The two sets that survived were a male and female in 2003 at Busch Gardens in Florida and a male and female born in 2013 at White Oaks, also in Florida.

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