We defy you to find any antelope more colourful than the Eastern Bongo.

As you will see it has a truly beautiful chestnut red coat with lightening white lines down it, while its dazzling legs are also dramatically patterned, russet brown, black and white.

Their faces are impressive too, with white chevron markings around the eyes, two white spots on each cheek and white markings which resemble a collar around their neck.

This highly attractive coat is one of the reasons why the future of the Eastern Bongo species is now critically endangered in the wild.

It has been ruthlessly targeted for his hide by hunters in its natural African homeland meaning there are now less than 150 left, with small populations existing only in the montane patches of forest in the Aberdares, Mount Kenya, Mau Forest and Eburu Forest.

As a result our Eastern Bongo are among the rarest animals in the world and there are few other places on the planet where you are likely to see their kind.

As part of the programme we have succeeded in breeding a number of healthy calves here in Chester, most recently Malaeka in 2008.

Males are bigger than the females and have longer spiralling horns which in the wild can reach up to a metre long.

Wild bongos tend to live in small groups of about eight females with their calves, led by one dominant male. They are the largest of all the African antelope species, but they are also extremely timid and easily spooked.

You'll know if they're distressed because they make a loud bleating sound, but that doesn't happen too often here as we work hard to ensure the herd are quietly contented.

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Interesting facts

Where they live Remnant montane forest patches
Habitat Lowland forests with dense undergrowth
Size Up to 1.3m shoulder height; up to 2.5m length
Weight Up to 405kg
Threats Habitat loss; hunting

Species Information

Scientific name Tragelaphus eurycerus
Order Artiodactyla
Family Bovidae
Genus Tragelaphus
IUCN status Critically Endangered
Roles in the zoo


Human Impact: This species helps demonstrate that human activities are causing serious environmental damage.

Partnerships: This species helps demonstrate that we work in partnerships with other organisations to conserve nature and natural resources.

Chester Zoo: This species helps demonstrate that as a charity Chester Zoo’s mission is to be a major force in conserving biodiversity worldwide.

Visitor experience