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Virginia Zoo says goodbye to Betty, oldest of endangered Eastern bongos

The Eastern bongo is considered critically endangered. Betty was a 15-year-old dominant female of the zoo's herd, and had mothered eight calves.

NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia Zoo posted a sad update Sunday afternoon - Betty, the facility's oldest Eastern bongo, passed away after being treated for "an acute gastrointestinal illness."

She was 15 years old, and had been born at the zoo. The Virginia Zoo's post said she was the dominant female of their bongos, and a mother of eight calves.

This is especially impressive, since this species of African antelope is critically endangered. That means there are fewer Eastern bongos in the wild than there are in captivity.

"Betty was an excellent mother, having birthed eight calves over the years and contributing to the conservation of this critically endangered population," the zoo wrote.

In a May update on The Virginia Zoo's website, officials said there had been two bongo calves born this year. At that point, there were eight Eastern bongos that lived at the facility.

A spokesperson wrote that Betty would be "dearly missed by her Keepers."