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Panorama of a Safari Park field exhibit with giraffes, water buffalo, and rhinos

Hornbill

White rhino with calf

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Hornbill

With long eyelashes, dark eyes, and a large bill, hornbills have many admirers. Did you know their eyelashes are modified feathers? You can pick out a hornbill from other birds by the casque above its bill. This hollow or spongy structure is made of keratin. It may act as a vibrating chamber to make the hornbill's voice louder.

In 1973, we welcomed the first Abyssinian ground hornbill hatchling outside of Africa. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums honored us with the 1974 Edward H. Bean Award “in recognition for the most notable birth.”

Ground hornbills spend most of their time on the ground, where they patrol their savanna territory in small groups. They use their long bill like tongs to catch rodents, frogs, and venomous snakes.

Watch our Abyssinian ground hornbills strut their stuff in the African Outpost.

Free! Living Legends - San Diego Zoo 100. Help save wildlife in our newest puzzle game.