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Honolulu Zoo completes repairs to 2 bird exhibits

  • COURTESY HONOLULU ZOO
                                Repairs to the Honolulu Zoo’s Southern Ground Hornbill and Marabou Stork exhibits have been completed after a fallen tree damaged the enclosure last February.

    COURTESY HONOLULU ZOO

    Repairs to the Honolulu Zoo’s Southern Ground Hornbill and Marabou Stork exhibits have been completed after a fallen tree damaged the enclosure last February.

Najuma, a 14-year-old African ground hornbill that went missing a year ago, still remains at large after a fallen tree damaged his enclosure at Honolulu Zoo.

City officials announced Tuesday that the Southern ground hornbill and Marabou stork exhibits in the African Savanna have reopened after the completion of major repairs.

Last February, gale-force winds toppled several large trees at Kapiolani Park, which uprooted a sidewalk, blocked a walkway and smashed a wire mesh cage, along with the roof and panels of the two habitats at the zoo.

Two African ground hornbills escaped as a result — one was found and returned, but Najuma, who was born and raised at Honolulu Zoo, remained missing.

“While it has been a year since the incident, we are still hopeful that Najuma is alive,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a news release.

There have been numerous calls reporting sightings, but many have mistaken seabirds for the missing African ground hornbill. There have been no recent, confirmed sightings of Najuma, officials said.

The two bird exhibits were repaired, and the damaged walkway, viewing area and enclosures replaced, thanks to assistance from the Honolulu Zoo Society in partnership with Nan, Inc., community volunteers and staff.

Resident hornbills Abby, a male who has produced seven offspring at the zoo, along with Martha, a female, and a Marabou stork named Lurch, who is male, are back on public display.

Southern ground hornbills are large, black birds, with patches of red around their eyes and throats. They are notable for their long eyelashes, large bills and stubby legs, according to the Honolulu Zoo Society website, with inflatable throat skin that is evident when they make a guttural call. Many tribes in Africa believe the ground hornbill is a rain prophet.

They eat small vertebrates and larger insects, and are listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List.

Marabou storks of Africa are the largest of the storks, according to the zoo, measuring up to 5-feet tall. They are noted for their bald heads, large bills, and an inflatable, throat pouch. They feed on dead animals, fish, reptiles and insects.

Anyone who sees Najuma is encouraged to take a photo and call Honolulu Zoo at 971-7171.

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