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Update On Matilda The Eastern Bongo


Matilda, an 8-year-old eastern bongo at Zoo Atlanta, gave birth to a male calf during the afternoon of June 22, 2016, but the newborn did not survive.


In the hours following his birth, the calf did not get to his feet and begin nursing as expected. Bongo calves are generally able to stand and are seen nursing within hours of delivery. Although Matilda is an experienced mother, when it became apparent that the calf was unable to stand or nurse, the Animal Management and Veterinary Teams began an intensive program of supportive care. Despite these intensive efforts, the calf passed away late in the evening of June 23.

All animal newborns are fragile, even in the care of experienced mothers and with the most concentrated efforts by animal care professionals and veterinarians. Matilda, who appears to be recovering normally from the birth, has had four other offspring with 8- year-old male Tambo.

Eastern bongos are critically endangered, with fewer than 500 believed to remain in the wild in their native Kenya, where their most imminent threats are habitat destruction and poaching. Matilda and Tambo are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Bongo Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which seeks to maintain a self-sustaining, genetically diverse population in North American zoos and has reintroduced bongos born in zoos to eastern Africa. Zoo Atlanta is an active participant in the SSP and has supported bongos and their habitats through the Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund.

As is the case with all animal deaths regardless of age, a necropsy will be performed through the Zoo’s partnership with the University of Georgia Zoo and Exotic Animal Pathology Service in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and results should be available in several weeks.


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Rachel Davis, Director of Communications

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Gavin Johnson, Public Relations and Communications Specialist

404.624.5980 – office


About Zoo Atlanta

Viewed as one of the finest zoological institutions in the U.S. and a proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Zoo Atlanta has a mission to inspire value and preservation of wildlife through a unique mix of education and outdoor family experiences. From well-known native wildlife to critically endangered species on the brink of extinction, the Zoo offers memorable close encounters with some 1,300 animals from around the world. The Zoo’s newest destination, Scaly Slimy Spectacular: The Amphibian and Reptile Experience, featuring more than 70 species in a 111,000 square-foot complex, opened in 2015 and is the world’s first LEED Gold-certified reptile and amphibian exhibit. Zoo collection highlights include Mei Lun and Mei Huan, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; North America’s largest zoological collection of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Up-close-andpersonal animal experiences include behind-the-scenes Wild Encounters with African elephants, Aldabra giant tortoises, giant pandas, lemurs, Sumatran tigers and warthogs. Zoo Atlanta is open daily with the exceptions of Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Keeper talks, interactive wildlife shows, education programs and special events run year-round. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org

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