Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Baby Ground Hornbill!

By Tonja Swank, Public Relations Coordinator


The Sacramento Zoo is pleased to announce a rarity in the zoo world – an Abyssinian ground hornbill chick has successfully hatched. Currently, there are only four other pairs of this hornbill species successfully breeding at zoos in the United States, and no other captive hatches have been reported in the last year.

The egg was discovered on May 8 and incubated until it hatched June 15. A second egg was also found, incubated and hatched; sadly, that chick did not survive. The Zoo has one pair of Abyssinian hornbills that have been together for six years; unfortunately, they have not yet, up to this point, successfully raised any chicks. Based on that history, staff decided to incubate and care for the chick themselves using protocol developed by the San Diego Zoo. Since the chick hatched, it has continued to grow and grow and grow!

At the moment the sex of the chick is not known, but in the next few weeks blood work will be done to determine if it is male or female. Check back to find out what the sex of the chick is and when it will go on exhibit!

Ground Hornbill Parents

Ground Hornbill Chick, Day 3


Ground Hornbill Chick, Day 9


Ground Hornbill Chick, Day 27



Ground Hornbill Chick, Day 47
Video of day 15 and day 23 during feeding time






The Zoo supports the Mabula Ground Hornbill Research and Conservation Project in South Africa. In addition to conducting research on genetics and behavior of Ground hornbills, this important project has launched awareness campaigns to educate the public on the dangers to hornbills such as unintentional poisoning, secondary trapping and snaring. Part of the project also includes hand-rearing some second-hatched hornbill chicks for release back into the wild or to join the captive breeding program. This is done because ground hornbills usually only raise one chick at a time. If two chicks are hatched, one must be removed from the nest to improve its chance of survival.

Like all 54 different hornbill species, the Abyssinian ground hornbill wild population is vulnerable. Ground hornbills from Sub-Saharan Africa are the largest of the hornbills. They have a bony horn on top of their bill called a casque, which makes their calls louder and easier to hear over great distances. Abyssinian ground hornbills fly only when disturbed or when crossing areas of dense brush, preferring to walk or run from danger. The greatest threats to the hornbill are human-related and include habitat loss and illegal hunting.

1 comment:

  1. Hope it will not become imprinted and the next generation will need AI to even produce a fertile egg. Where are those Abyssinian ground hornbill puppets?

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