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Cleo: Male, born July 17, 1988 at San Diego Wild Animal Park.
Oscarina: Female, born June 16, 1995 at Jacksonville Zoological Gardens.
The pair arrived at the Zoo together on April 29, 2003.
The ground hornbills are the largest and the heaviest of all the hornbill species. The body feathers are black but the primary feathers of the wings are white and can only be seen when the birds are in flight. The birds have a bright red throat patch that can be inflated when they vocalize. The female has additional blue markings on her throat patch. Both sexes have very long eyelashes and the eyes are also surrounded by red skin patches.
Average lifespan in the wild is not definitely known but believed to be 35 to 40 years. Kemp (1995) reports that maximum longevity could be as long as 70 years. Longevity in captivity is not known but there are many living in zoos today that are in their 20s and a few in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
Although they can fly, southern ground hornbills are mostly terrestrial. Their long bills are used for stabbing at prey species. These hornbills have an unusual habit of collecting multiple prey items and lining them up in their bills before tossing them back and swallowing. They are very opportunistic in their feeding habits, eating carrion when it is available and even going after snakes as venomous as cobras and puff adders.
Nest in cavities, typically in a large tree. Clutches of 1-2 eggs that are incubated for 37-43 days. Even if 2 eggs hatch, the younger chick rarely survives. The surviving chick fledges at about 86 days.
35-40 in (90-100cm)
Male: average 10.5 lb (4800 g). Female: average 7.5 lb (3400 g).
Southern ground hornbills are omnivorous (eat both meat and plant material). In the wild these birds consume a variety of prey including small snakes, lizards and mice as well as a variety of fruit. At the Zoo the base diet for the birds is comprised of a commercial raw meat mix, which contains the nutrients essential for the animal’s well being. For enrichment, activity and training the birds receive fruit, insects and mice.
On the 2011 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Southern ground hornbill is listed as Vulnerable.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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