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Southern Ground Hornbills Hatch at Busch Gardens

Updated: 21 Mar 2013 03:05:21 AM

Two new Southern Ground Hornbills have been hatched at Busch Gardens.

These two, as yet unnamed, males were hatched February 15th and February 19th and are cute and healthy.

Visitors are now allowed to view them at Jambo Junction, in the Nairobi section of the Park.

Older brother, Tufts, and uncle, Baraka, are also often spotted at Jambo Junction.

Showy African Bird

The Southern Ground Hornbill is a showy African bird and a delight to view.

Resembling a chicken with a long, straight beak, the Hornbill is jet black with bright red patches of bare skin along the side of the face and neck.

Loud and proud, the Southern Ground Hornbill is the largest of the Hornbill varieties.

The male's weigh between 8 and 14 pounds; the females slightly less.

Native to central and eastern Africa, the Hornbills have a territory that stretches from Namibia, Angola, Kenya and South Africa.

They survive only in a savannah habitat, needing large trees for nesting and short, dense grass for foraging for their diet of snakes, rodents, frogs, snails and small mammals.

The hornbill is unique in that they seldom drink.

This incredible bird lives in small groups of no more than ten, including adults and juveniles.

Each group has a defined territory of up to forty square miles.

Loud Squawkers

Groups communicate with each other via chorus calls; their extremely loud squawks can be heard for nearly two miles.

The Southern Ground Hornbill can live as long as seventy years in captivity and thirty in the wild.

This bird is classified as vulnerable throughout Africa and critically endangered in South Africa.

Most known Hornbills today live in captivity.

Conservationists are working hard to preserve and increase the population of this species.

Healthy newborns become the focal point for those goals.

So, next visit to Busch Gardens, stop by and say hello to the future -- two new Hornbills.

Busch Garden tickets can be bundled into your vacation getaway.

By Marie Ospina

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