Smart, curious, and outgoing, Charlie the Abyssinian ground hornbill considered everyone a friend.
  • 1950s
  • 1980s

When he came to the Zoo in 1951, it didn’t take Charlie long to become a bit of a “keepers’ pet.” When given the command “Charlie, knock-knock,” he would gently peck the keeper’s hand. He seemed to enjoy the company of his human caregivers and would often take matters into his own hands—or in this case, wings. Although keepers kept the birds’ wings clipped, one time Charlie’s had grown out more quickly than anticipated. One day, Charlie left his enclosure and flew to the Bird Yard and knocked on the door with his big, hard beak! There was never a worry about Charlie flying out of the Zoo—he wanted to be with the keepers and would follow them anywhere.

In the 1970s, Charlie and his mate Susie were moved to the Safari Park (then the Wild Animal Park). The pair lived in the East African habitat, and Charlie would roam from one end to another, exploring. If construction crews were working, he would often hop onto their equipment for a better view of the goings-on. Keepers lovingly referred to him with the title “sidewalk superintendent.”

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