Cuter than Rudolph – and almost as rare!

NEW ORLEANS -   She's got big brown eyes and a nose that's shiny-- and black.

So she isn't "you know who" but she's just as adorable and almost as rare.

The Audubon Nature Institute Species Survival Center in Algiers is celebrating the birth of a "bongo" antelope. She doesn't have a name yet, but bongos are a critically endangered species whose natural habitat is the African forest. Fewer than one hundred bongos are believed to be left in the wild.

"This is a water-loving, forest antelope,’’ says Species Survival Center Curator Michelle Hatwood, “Louisiana has the perfect habitat for this beautiful species to thrive.’’

The Species Survival Center calls the birth "a significant success story." The Institute partnered with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park to bring a pair of bongos, a male and a female, to the Species Survival Center in April. Their calf was born Dec. 11.  She's a scrawny and scrappy 46 pounds, and she passed her first veterinary checkup.

Hatwood says bongos are naturally "secretive (and) curious," and four acres of wooded land is now the baby's playground. The bongo parents seem to be enamored with their child, and Hatwood is too.

“Bongo are one of the first species of antelope I’ve ever gotten the privilege to work with,’’ says Hatwood, "they have a special place in my heart."