Visitors to the Cape May County Park and Zoo are going to see some new little and not so little faces this year. Births in January and February added four new members to the zoo family, according to Associate Veterinarian, Alex Ernst.
On January 18, 'Marley, the female Bongo gave birth to a male calf. "This is our first calf born here since Marley herself was born here in 2009", reported Ernst. "The father, ‘Bo’ is 5 years old and came to us from the Fort Worth Zoo in 2012", he added. Bongos are herbivores and their diet consists of leaves, bushes, vines, and fruit. In captivity, their lifespan is up to 19 years. Gestation is approximately 285 days.
Eastern Bongo are a large forest dwelling antelope typically found throughout Kenya. Poaching and habitat destruction have threatened this animal’s existence and they are considered ‘Critically Endangered' in the Wild. A female calf born at the Cape May County Zoo in 2001, ‘Mara’, was sent back to Kenya as part of a repatriation program. The Cape May County Zoo is proud to participate in this very important AZA Species Survival Program.
The mission of an AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population within AZA-accredited Zoos and Aquariums, Certified Related Facilities, and Sustainability Partners. The Cape May County Zoo has several animals that are part of the SSP program.
After announcing the birth of the Bongo, Freeholder E. Marie Hayes, who oversees the operations at the park and zoo, said, "It has been an exciting winter at the zoo, February is not quite over and zoo keepers saw a lot of activity at the Wallaby habitat. Three Wallaby joeys emerged from their mothers' pouch this month".
According to Dr. Ernst, "Shelia, Sydney and Addie all have young joeys in their pouch". In the past three years, seven Joeys have been born at the Cape May County Zoo.
Wallabies are marsupials or pouched mammals, they are born small and undeveloped. Upon birth, they immediately crawl into their mother's pouch where they continue to develop and grow, this is usually for a couple of months. Wallaby babies, like kangaroos are called joeys. Even after a joey leaves the pouch, it often returns to jump in when danger approaches.
Hayes encourages visitors to come to the Park and Zoo all year long. "There is always something new and exciting to see at the Zoo. The new Bongo calf and ‘Marley’ will be visible this spring every day in the Zebra Habitat in our African Savanna. The new giraffe bone in December will also be out and about in the spring in the African Savanna area. The Moms and Joeys can be viewed now and every day in the Wallaby habitat", Hayes said.