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Bontebok Calf Makes His Debut at Nashville Zoo

Nashville Zoo is excited to announce that a seven-week-old male bontebok calf named Rhoden can now be seen in the mixed-species Africa Field habitat. The calf was born on May 6 and has been living off-exhibit with his mom, Eclair. Including the new calf, the Zoo now has four bontebok in their care. Nashville Zoo Lead Hoofstock Keeper Nikole Edmunds said, "Eclair gave birth naturally without assistance and she is doing great as a first-time mom taking care of her calf." This is the second successful bontebok birth at Nashville Zoo since 2017.

Bontebok are a medium-sized antelope with elegant ring-shaped horns and a notable white strip that runs down the center of the face. In the wild, they feed on short grasses and plants on the open savanna. Bontebok are diurnal feeders meaning they will graze at dawn and dusk and rest during the day. Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) are native to the grasslands of South Africa and are considered vulnerable to extinction according the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In 1931, this species was down to only seventeen individuals in the wild. A farmer built a fence around his land enclosing the bontebok. Because of their limited jumping ability, the bontebok remained enclosed and were able repopulate. By 1961, the herd had grown to 61 and were relocated to a larger area. Due to these successful efforts and the creation of Bontebok National Park there are now over 3,000 in the wild. Nashville Zoo participates in the Bontebok Species Survival Plan which helps to ensure genetically diverse populations amongst this species in human care.

About Nashville Zoo

Nashville Zoo is a nonprofit organization celebrating 25 years at Grassmere. The Zoo is an accredited member of the Associations of Zoos and Aquariums, exemplifying the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. Nashville Zoo is actively engaged in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs, and education initiatives in our backyard as well as around the world. With support from the Nashville community, donors, and sponsors, the Zoo is ranked the number one tourist attraction in Middle Tennessee and welcomes more than one million guests annually. Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike just six miles south of downtown. For more information about Nashville Zoo, visit


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