6 Facts About the Honolulu Zoo’s Missing African Ground Hornbill

Here are a few facts about the endangered bird that got away during high winds this weekend.

Photos: Courtesy of the City and County of Honolulu Zoo

(left) The Southern ground hornbill. (right) The damaged enclosure

A Southern ground hornbill is still on the run. You may have seen the video of workers trying to capture the endangered bird that escaped when a downed tree broke its enclosure during high winds this weekend. One was captured Monday morning. The other still has not been caught. The 13-year-old male, named Najuma, was last spotted by people at the Diamond Head lookout Monday. There have been no reported sightings since then.

If you see the bird, zoo workers say it is not dangerous, but do not approach it because you could scare it away. The city says to call 911.

Here are a few fast facts about the bird.

  • It is technically called the Southern ground hornbill and resides in Africa. This is the only hornbill that lives on the ground. It can fly low, but tends to walk.
  • It hunts for small animals including hares, tortoises, snakes and squirrels and large insects in the low grasses of the African savannah. At the Honolulu Zoo, they eat a commercial food called Bird of Prey as well as dead chicks.
  • These hornbills make nests in big trees and tend to breed every three years. That is because the young birds stay with them that entire time until they reach sexual maturity. The hornbills typically lay two eggs during the breeding season, not at the same time. The first chick to hatch usually takes all the food and is the only one to survive. The parents feed them for the first year.
  • Most hornbills are monogamous. Some adult males do not breed but help other hornbills raise their chicks.
  • The hornbill’s throat can inflate and deflate when it makes its call.
  • Southern ground hornbills can live up to 70 years in captivity.
  • The hornbill is considered vulnerable because of loss of habitat. In 2014, their status in South Africa was changed to endangered.