In praise of hornbills

Since I brought up hornbills the other day, I now have the excuse of posting this picture I recently took at Beijing Zoo. In the main on the Musings, I try to stick to reviews of palaeontological issues, things pertinent to science communication and education and the like. It is a deliberate choice to avoid speaking about anything personal, but i really have a soft-spot for the Great Indian Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) and with no other obvious reason to post this picture but a personal one, I though it time to break ranks, if only briefly.ind hornbill 0

As I have mentioned here before and has been covered elsewhere, I have worked as a volunteer at London Zoo for a while and like most people there, got to know Josephine. Josie was a Great Indian Hornbill who live at the zoo for some 47 years (and was probably well into her 50s when she died in 1998) and was very well know with both the staff and the public. So much so in fact that she was one of the select number of animals to have her obituary published in the The Times upon her death.

She was a friendly bird who would knew a great many people by sight and would often become more active in their presence and come to the front of her enclosure to greet them. I used to make a detour most lunchtimes on my way to the staff cafeteria  to bypass her in the Tropical Birdhouse and see how she was doing. She was very old when I ‘knew’ her and spent most of her time doing very little, but it was still nice to see her and to appreciate a beautiful bird in wonderful condition. Since those times I’ve always liked these birds and make a special effort to see them in any zoos that keep hornbills.

Enough reminiscences for now, more dinosaurs to come soon.

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