By Richard Melendez, Digital Editor
Yesterday’s announcement that a baby bongo antelope was recently born at the Honolulu Zoo got me thinking about what a great resource our zoo is. If you hadn’t heard, the Honolulu Zoo’s two eastern lowland bongo antelope, Topenga (the mom) and Cory (the dad), gave birth to an as-yet-unnamed calf who is pretty darn adorable.
There are currently an estimated 28,000 bongo antelope existing in the wild, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorized them as “near threatened,” which is defined as “close to being at high risk of extinction in the near future.”
Some question the need for zoos, thinking them antiquated and cruel, as they keep wild animals in enclosures. The other side of the argument is that zoos help conservation efforts while educating the public. Indeed, many species that are extinct in the wild still thrive in captivity. The ‘Alalā, also known as the Hawaiian crow, was one such species. This culturally revered bird had disappeared from the wild, but thanks to the efforts of the San Diego Zoo, the species carried on and is today slowly being reintroduced to areas of the Big Island in the hopes that an ‘Alalā population can be reestablished there.
Our Honolulu Zoo is home to a number of endangered and near endangered species including the aforementioned bongo antelope, Nēnē (Hawaiian geese), black rhinos, Komodo dragons, and many others. Unfortunately, because of climate change and mankindʻs impact on their environments, a number of these species are not long for this world. Zoos allow us to see and learn about them before they disappear entirely. And maybe, just maybe, give them another chance at survival.
So yeah, letʻs be thankful for our zoos and the important role they play.
- The Honolulu Zoo is open 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m., every day(!) except Christmas.
- To learn more about the Honolulu Zooʻs numerous conservation efforts CLICK HERE.
- To donate, volunteer, become a member or otherwise support the Honolulu Zoo, CLICK HERE.
- And wherever you reside, look into your own local zoo and consider giving them your support.