Potter Park Zoo's Newest Addition: Help Name Our Baby Bongo


All Photos Courtesy: Carolyn Schulte

Potter Park Zoo welcomed the birth of a female Eastern bongo, a critically endangered antelope-like animal native to central Kenya, as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program.

“This is a proud moment for Potter Park Zoo, adding to the population of these rare animals,” Sherrie Graham, Executive Director at Potter Park Zoo said. “The Eastern bongos are a species that most would never get to see in the wild, and we are thankful that we can provide those who visit Potter Park Zoo with this unique experience.”

The female bongo was born June 18, 2014 and marks the third bongo calf to be born at Potter Park Zoo in the last three years, and she brings the zoo’s bongo population to five. She joins her mother Phoebe and fellow bongos Binti, Bella, and Bock. Eventually this baby will be placed at another zoo for breeding as determined by the Species Survival Plan.

“The birth of an Eastern (Mountain) bongo calf is very significant as this species may have as few as 100 animals left in the wild,” Dr. Tara Harrison, veterinarian at Potter Park Zoo said. “The captive population of bongo serve as a prevention against extinction for this species.”

Eastern bongos are critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and they are found exclusively in a remote region in central Kenya. They are the only Tragelaphus (antelope-like animals) in which both sexes have horns. There are believed to be approximately 365 bongos in accredited institutions in North America as part of the AZA Species Survival Plan program.

YOU Decide The Newborn's Name!

**UPDATE: YOU ALL VOTED and the newborn's name is Penelope, "Penny" for short! The newest addition is doing great in her exhibit with fellow bongos**

In order to help name the baby bongo, Potter Park Zoo will be running a donation challenge. Beginning today, the Greater Lansing community can visit the zoo and inside the gift shop, tubs labeled with potential names will be present for two weeks. Monetary donations can be used as votes with the tub containing the most money at the end of the period deciding the newborn animal’s name. The three options to vote on include Penelope, Alika and Bahati.

The baby bongo will join her mother on exhibit, as weather permits, in the coming days. For more updates, keep an eye on our social media, and website!