ZOO ATLANTA WELCOMES MALFOY AND STRAWBERRY THE WRINKLED HORNBILLS
Endangered species is new to the Zoo with significant conservation messages
ATLANTA – September 8, 2022 – Zoo Atlanta is pleased to welcome a new pair of wrinkled hornbills to the animal population. Male Malfoy, 26, and female Strawberry, 14, have arrived at the Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP).
Native to southeast Asia, wrinkled hornbills are primarily black, with blue skin around their eyes. Males and females can be distinguished from one another by their throat pouches, which are blue in females and pale yellow to white in males, and their eyes, which are greyish brown in females and red in males.
The species is currently classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In the wild, their primary threat is habitat loss. Wrinkled hornbills are heavily reliant on lowland forests, which are being destroyed at a rapid rate by illegal logging and land conversion for palm oil production. The birds are also frequently captured and killed as unintended bycatch as a result of rampant illegal trade in another hornbill species, the critically endangered helmeted hornbill. While all hornbills have casques (a bony enlargement on the top of the head), the casque of the helmeted hornbill is highly valued on the black market as “hornbill ivory.” In addition to wrinkled hornbills, several other Asian hornbill species – the black hornbill, great hornbill, rhinoceros hornbill, white-crowned hornbill, and black hornbill – are similarly taken as bycatch in this trade.
“We are very excited to welcome the wrinkled hornbills to Zoo Atlanta. These are visually dynamic, highly engaging birds that will provide a wonderful new complement to the animal population,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “Importantly, this endangered species highlights some of the gravest threats facing wildlife today: one, the nearly ubiquitous challenge of habitat loss, and two, the far-reaching consequences of the illegal wildlife trade.”
Rainforest destruction for palm oil plantations is a major threat for many species that call Zoo Atlanta home, including but not limited to critically endangered Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, critically endangered Sumatran tigers, and vulnerable Malayan sun bears. Zoo Atlanta is one of only a small number of zoos to pursue and attain membership in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil™ (RSPO). The Zoo and many other accredited zoos are vocal advocates for encouraging the use of only sustainable palm oil, supporting only companies who use sustainably produced oil and celebrating those corporations who make the switch to sustainable, and raising public awareness of the necessity for informed shopping.
Malfoy and Strawberry are gradually being introduced to one another, so only one may be visible at a time in coming days. The pair will make their home in the newly reinterpreted Corridor to Change pathway in the Zoo’s Asian Forest. The area highlights the detrimental impact of the international illegal wildlife trade.