The Zoo abounds with wildlife sounds. But in the 1940s, one of the most impressive was the voice of Hammerhead, a Grevy’s zebra.
  • 1940s
  • 1950s

As one of the Zoo’s guided tour buses pulled up to his yard, Hammerhead, so named because he could be quite stubborn, would trot briskly to the front. After encouragement from the bus driver, the exceptional equine would fill the air with the sound of zebra—not a single, drawn-out note but more like a staccato song. ZOONOOZ editor Ken Stott, Jr. wrote: “The song itself defied description; no words could do justice to its awesome thunder…nothing like it had ever been seen or heard in Southern California…”

Hammerhead’s performances were always followed by applause and, at times, standing ovations. His fame spread beyond San Diego through the stories that visitors shared when they returned home, newspaper articles, and even newsreels. Most of all, Hammerhead was a hometown hero. As Mr. Stott wrote, “There is scarcely a child of grammar-school age in San Diego who did not know him well, both by sight and by sound.”


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