The Eastern Bongo baby bounded out into his exhibit at Melbourne Zoo this morning, hot on the heels of his mother Binti. While Binti grazed calmly and enjoyed some crunchy carrots, her calf frolicked around, running and leaping with great energy and agility.
Eastern Bongos are Africa’s largest forest antelope species: spectacular animals with chestnut red coats, distinctive long, strong, and curved horns, and black and white markings that help to camouflage them against foliage.
Mother Binti and her male calf have largely been in seclusion since the birth on March 23, because that is their instinctive wild behavior. Carnivore Department Supervisor John Warriner explains that ‘by nature, this is one of the species that we call hiders.
‘During the first few weeks after giving birth, Bongo mothers hide their babies, go off to feed, and only return once a day to nurse the calves.
‘The mother even eats the placenta and the newborn’s faeces, as a defense strategy, so there will be no smells to attract predators to the spot where her calf is hidden.'
This is only the third-ever Eastern Bongo calf born at Melbourne Zoo.