Meet the newest residents of the Virginia Zoo

Johnny, the zoo's newest male calf was born on Dec. 26. The birth of the calves brings the total herd to eight in their exhibit in the Africa-Okavango Delta. (Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)
Johnny, the zoo’s newest male calf was born on Dec. 26. The birth of the calves brings the total herd to eight in their exhibit in the Africa-Okavango Delta. (Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)

NORFOLK —  Two Eastern bongos at the Virginia Zoo spent their Christmas holiday in labor this year.

Juni, a 12.5-year-old bongo, gave birth to a male calf on Dec. 26, according to a news release from the Virginia Zoo.

The calf, who keepers have named Johnny, weighs 44 pounds and stands approximately 2 feet tall.

This is the eighth offspring for Juni and third for father Bob, zoo officials said.

Jesi, a 3-year-old bongo, also started showing signs of labor on Dec. 26.

Within an hour, it became evident that Jesi was having trouble and would not be able to give birth to her calf naturally, according to the zoo.

The zoo’s Animal Care Team decided a Cesarean section was the safest option for both mom and calf.

Jesi and her female calf, who keepers are calling Charlie, made it through surgery well.

Following the C-section, Jesi was unable to care for her calf so staff stepped in and are bottle feeding her.

Virginia Zoo Keeper Jason Strohkorb oversees the baby bongo’s first exam. Charlie, a female calf, was born on December 26 to mom Jesi through C-section. The calf weighs 48 pounds and stands approximately 2 feet tall. (Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)
Virginia Zoo Keeper Jason Strohkorb oversees the baby bongo’s first exam. Charlie, a female calf, was born on December 26 to mom Jesi through C-section. The calf weighs 48 pounds and stands approximately 2 feet tall. (Southside Daily Photo/courtesy of the Virginia Zoo)

The first month of life for a hand-raised calf is a very critical time and staff is carefully monitoring her as she grows, officials said.

“Jesi had some complications since her C-section, but for now, she is stable and we are continuing to watch her closely,” said Colleen Clabbers, the Virginia Zoo’s veterinarian. “The calf appears strong and has been eager to take a bottle. Even though the first month is a critical time for her, we are hopeful that she will continue to thrive under our care.” 

Charlie weighs 48 pounds and stands approximately 2 feet tall.

The birth of the calves brings the total herd to eight in the zoo’s exhibit in the Africa – Okavango Delta.

Due to the dynamics of these important births and changing weather conditions, there may be a delay in viewing the calves on exhibit.

Stay tuned for any updates on the zoo’s Facebook page.

About bongos

Bongos are large-bodied, relatively short-legged antelope with long spiraling horns that make one complete twist from base to tip.

In general, the bongo inhabits lowland forest for most of its range; the subspecies in Kenya lives in montane forests at (6,560-9,840 feet) altitude.

They have a rich chestnut coat that is striped with thin white vertical lines along the sides. The face and legs have patches of black and white, with white chevrons on the breast and below the eyes.

Herds are comprised of females and calves, while males are typically more solitary.

Females give birth to one calf per year and the gestation period is nine months. Weaning of the calf occurs at about six months.

Always be informed. Get the latest news and information delivered to your inbox

Print Friendly, PDF & Email