Another Challenge for Indomitable Pipi

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  21. 10. 2023

In mid-August I wrote here about a young mountain bongo female from our zoo, who lost her mother but showed a tremendous will to live. Thanks to her connection with the herd, she began to drink from two other females, who were caring for their own young, which, together with artificial supplemental feeding was sufficient for her successful development. After a month she even stopped requiring supplemental feeding altogether. The much older young of female Raily was by that time already feeding mostly on green fodder and the orphan female, whom the keepers began to call Pipi, had a considerable supply of mother’s milk.

A female mountain bongo Pipi immediately after recovering from her injury. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo A female mountain bongo Pipi immediately after recovering from her injury. Photo: Miroslav Bobek, Prague Zoo

Written like this, it may sound perhaps too simple; however, in reality this part of little Pipi’s life was also not without complications, which were managed only thanks to great commitment of our keepers.

Unfortunately, disaster struck on the first September weekend. Disaster, caused by undisciplined visitors. A group of parents did not pay attention to their children, who started chasing each other behind the fence out of the visitors’ space. Thus, they startled the bongos resting at an otherwise always quiet place. The frightened antelopes bolted away – and Pipi crashed into a fence. After the collision she walked away by herself, but she was extremely shaken. She developed a swelling on her snout, followed by a discharge from her nostrils; she limited her food intake due to the painful swelling and started losing weight. The veterinarian repeatedly intervened and the keepers had again sleepless nights.

Lucie Křížová wrote: “What can I say about this incident… These visitors ruined more than two months of our work and returned us and the young again to the beginning of the journey. Few people can imagine how much effort and energy it cost not only some of us, keepers, but also the female Raily, who thanks to our effort adopted the little female almost as her own. Behind all of this there is a lot of voluntary work during our free time, cancelled vacations, getting up at four a.m. and coming home late at the expense of our families… We do all of this with love and willingness despite an immense fatigue. And now we are facing the uncertain future of the young again, and we start all over again. But we won’t give up.”

The effort of the keepers and this time also the veterinarian paid off. After another three weeks Pipi began to gain weight again and returned to her normal behaviour. As the curator Bára Dobiášová says, she appears to be very active, she is fully socialized and in addition to taking green fodder she still drinks mostly from Raily. At the last weigh-in she was already 46 kilograms – however, if she hadn’t got injured due to undisciplined visitors, she might have weighed up to ten kilograms more…