Another species of African antelope, the bongo, inhabits mainly lowland forests, although small populations live in the highland forests in East Africa. Their red, stripy coats act as excellent camouflage from predators when they are hiding amongst the trees. Males are very heavy, weighing up to 400kg which is twice as much as a female.
Bongo can live up to 20 years in captivity and, although numbers are declining in the wild due to hunting and predation by big cats, they breed successfully in zoos and safari parks. For that reason, here at Blackpool Zoo, we maintain an all-female, non-breeding group. Only one calf is born at a time and these are on their feet within a very short time so that they can follow their mother out of any perceived danger.
The Eastern bongo has a long, flexible tongue which it uses to wrap around and pull up the grass and leaves it likes to eat in the wild. In the Zoo, they are fed on horse and pony pellets, hay, maize, oats, carrots, cabbage and alfalfa. Bongos need salt in their diet and have been known to eat trees burnt by lightning to get the salt and minerals they require.