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Baby boom! Franklin Park and Stone Zoos celebrate recent births

Spring is in full bloom at the Zoos, and this season the staff at Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo is celebrating new animal babies that were recently born.

On April 27, Annakiya, an Eastern bongo, gave birth to a calf at Franklin Park Zoo. Annakiya went into labor at 2:39 p.m. on April 27 and gave birth at 4:07 p.m. By 4:21 p.m., the baby was standing.

The next morning, the calf, who weighs 42 pounds, had her well-baby examination which included a general physical examination and bloodwork.

“The calf appears healthy. She is bright, alert and responsive, and is also very strong and active. As with any new birth, we are monitoring the mother and baby closely. Annakiya is an experienced mother and is doing everything a mother bongo should,” said Dr. Alex Becket, Zoo New England Associate Veterinarian in the department of Animal Health and Conservation Medicine.

The bongo calf is expected to be on exhibit for short periods of time this weekend, weather permitting.

Franklin Park Zoo has played a key role in growing the North American captive population through successful breeding. Since 1984, 17 bongo calves have been born at Franklin Park Zoo. Eastern bongos are a critically endangered species.

Zoo New England participates in the Bongo Species Survival Plan (SSP), which is a cooperative, inter-zoo program coordinated nationally through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. SSPs are designed to maintain genetically diverse and demographically stable captive populations of species. This birth is the result of a recommended breeding between Patrick, age 6, and Annakiya, age 14. This is Annakiya’s third calf, but her first with Patrick.

Bongos are the largest, and often considered the most beautiful, forest-dwelling antelope found in the rainforests of equatorial Africa. Shy and elusive, bongos are known for being almost silent as they move through dense forests. These animals are recognized by their distinctive chestnut-red color and thin white stripes. Males and females are similar in appearance, but males are larger and their coats darken with age. Both sexes have horns, although males' horns grow longer and thicker.

Five days before the bongo was born at Franklin Park Zoo, Fernanda, a red-rumped agouti, gave birth to twins at Stone Zoo on April 22. Zoo New England participates in the Red-Rumped Agouti Species Survival Plan, and these births were the result of a recommended breeding.

Stone Zoo is home to seven red-rumped agoutis, including the new twins which can be seen on exhibit with their family. Red-rumped agoutis, named for the reddish fur that covers their backsides, live in pairs or small family groups consisting of a mating pair and their offspring.

Red-rumped agoutis, which weigh between 6 and 13 pounds, are native to French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinadad and Tobago. While they prefer forest environments, they can also be found in thick brush and savannahs. Their diet consists of seeds, fruits, roots and leaves. When food is abundant, they will bury it to save for a time when food is scarce. In doing so, red-rumped agoutis serve as important seed dispersers for many trees including Brazilian nut trees.

The staff at Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo is anticipating a busy spring with several more births and hatches expected in the coming months.

Learn more about the bongo and red-rumped agouti.

For the most up to date Zoo news, be sure to visit the website at www.zoonewengland.org and stay connected on social media - Facebook (/franklinparkzoo and /stonezoo) and  Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@zoonewengland)!