An unlucky-in-love endangered bird at Fife Zoo is searching for a soulmate – but looks set to spend another Valentine’s Day alone.
The rare Von der Decken Hornbill arrived at the zoo in Cupar as part of an endangered species breeding programme last year.
Zazu, named in honour of Simba’s loyal avian companion in Disney’s The Lion King, is currently sharing his brand-new enclosure with other bird species including Hamerkop, Turacos and Whistling Ducks.
However, efforts to find him a suitable mate have been hindered by complications including Brexit.
Increased bureaucracy around the movement of animals from the European Union and UK wide restrictions as a result of the Avian Influenza (or ‘Bird Flu’) have left Zazu alone.
He has been branded “Scotland’s unluckiest bird” by staff at the zoo who are actively looking to find him a partner in a European-wide search.
Von der Decken Hornbills are usually found in dry regions of Eastern Africa. Males like Zazu are easily identifiable by their large red bills, whilst females have black bills.
Female Von der Decken hornbills bury themselves underground to hatch and rear their chicks with the male hornbill feeding the mother and chicks through a slit in the underground mud nest.
Fife Zoo director, Mike Knight said ‘We’ve been actively looking across Europe for a partner for Zazu, but this has proved difficult following the recent Avian influenza outbreak and also the increased challenges faced with moving animals across Europe since Brexit.
“We’ve now had to close the walkthrough element of his enclosure to guests, but we are still optimistic a mate can be moved to the zoo in the Spring.
“Zazu seems perfectly happy sharing our new aviary with the other bird species, but unfortunately he will be spending Valentine’s Day without a date again this year.” Fife Zoo is home to many endangered animals including Grevy’s zebra, meerkats and lemurs. It is currently under plans for expansion.”
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