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Announcing the name of our new Harris hawk!

The new Harris hawk at Zoo Atlanta has been named Hawkmoth, thanks to an original story of a secret superhero who aids a princess in a moment of need. “The Princess and the Hawk” was the winning story selected from more than 90 entries from children ages 13 and under in Zoo Atlanta’s Name the Harris Hawk Contest. The story was submitted by Harrison and Caroline Elliott, ages 6 and 4, of Dacula, Georgia. The contest winners will enjoy four general admission tickets to Zoo Atlanta and an exclusive encounter with an ambassador bird.

In addition to the contest winners, Zoo Atlanta recognizes four Honorable Mentions and their associated hawk names and stories: “Hawkward,” the story of a bullied hawk who finds friends in an unlikely place, submitted by Cate Williams, age 9; “Ember,” the story of a hawk and his friends who want to celebrate Taco Tuesday on a Friday, submitted by Aslan Wiggins, age 10; “Spotter,” a heroic tale of the smallest of hawks being able to save the day, submitted by Rhea Menon, age 13; and “Chocolate,” the tale of a hawk who tasted bad to sharks, submitted by August Roberts, age 4. The Honorable Mentions will be featured on Zoo Atlanta’s social networks in coming weeks.

Scores of entries poured in when Zoo Atlanta announced the naming contest, which opened on February 3 and continued through February 21. The winning story was read aloud via video on Zoo Atlanta Facebook and Instagram by Ambassador Animals Keeper McKenzie Bender to African grey parrot Larry, a longtime member of the Zoo’s World of Wild Theater presented by Georgia Natural Gas.

“We were thrilled by the level of participation we saw in the contest, with so many wonderful stories,” said Justin Eckelberry, Lead Keeper, Ambassador Animals. “Our winner was a creative spin on a superhero story, with a surprise twist at the end. We look forward to introducing Hawkmoth and the amazing adaptations of his species to our Zoo visitors later this year.”

Native to the southwestern U.S., northwestern Mexico, and south to Argentina and Chile, Harris hawks are generally solitary but are also known to hunt in groups, earning them the nickname “wolves of the sky.” While the species is not currently threatened in the wild, the hawks face habitat destruction, habitat disruption, and threats from power lines.

The Ambassador Animals Team is hopeful that Hawkmoth, who hatched at another facility and is now 5 months old, will have an opportunity to meet Members and guests in a World of Wild Theater presentation this summer.

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