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In Animals & Plants


Don’t forget our fine feathered friends when you visit the Virginia Zoo. From the majestic eagles, Abe and Jefferson, to the lovely lovebirds, we have a varied collection on hand.

hornbillGround Hornbills
The hornbills Jim and Jane are colorful characters, and not just due to their black and red coloring. They live in the exhibit with the Masai giraffe and show lots of personality. Jim in particular loves to parade around the yard showing off prizes (including sunglasses that fell from a visitor on the boardwalk above!).The ground hornbill inhabits the African savanna, south of the equator. They prefer areas with low grass growth, making it easier to search for food. They will follow herds of hoofstock around, since the animals kick up the ground and make it easier for the hornbills to find prey. The female will sit on a nest throughout a one-month incubation and is fed by the male during that time. Numbers of hornbills are declining due to use in tribal medicine.

BabyCrane_001East African Crowned Cranes
Although not endangered, these birds are considered vulnerable due to habitat destruction in their native Africa. East Africa crowned cranes typically have two to three chicks at a time, and both parents spend time incubating the eggs and then rearing the chicks. Chicks are able to walk soon after hatching and can fly at 10 weeks old.East Africa crowned cranes are social and gregarious outside of the nesting season, the Zoo’s cranes seem to enjoy watching visitors come and go in their exhibit area. Crowned cranes are the only cranes that roost in trees, and they are famous for an energetic courtship dance that involves bobbing, flapping wings and bows.

BaldEagleBald Eagles
Abe and Jefferson are rescued birds, meaning they were injured in the wild and then brought into captivity for treatment. Their permanent injuries make them non-releasable. Abe is an amputee on his right wing and has cataracts. Jefferson has recalcification on his right wing caused by a former injury which decreases his flexibility. As non-releasable birds, Abe and Jefferson serve as living educational “tools” allowing visitors to learn about the species and see these spectacular animals up close. Eagle feathers cannot be owned without a special permit. All loose feathers at the Zoo are collected by keepers and sent to federal agents. On average, bald eagles have 7,000 feathers.The bald eagle was chosen as the national symbol in 1782 because of its long life, great strength, and majestic looks. The bald eagle is not bald. It has white feathers on its head, neck, and tail, and was named using the Old English word, “bald,” which means white. However, immature eagles frequently are misidentified as golden eagles because of their dark color and because the white has not developed on their heads. Eagles are mature at 4 to 5 years old. Eagles’ wingspans range an impressive 6 ½ to 7 ½ feet (they are second in size only to the California condors).

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