Kochi: Motionless Bird Surprisingly Active

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kashishi spreads her wings wide at Noichi Zoological Park in Konan, Kochi Prefecture.

KONAN, Kochi — Despite their reputation as motionless birds, a shoebill that has just arrived at a zoo in Kochi Prefecture seems to overturn this image by being surprisingly active.

Kashishi is an estimated 11-year-old female shoebill, also known as a whale-headed stork or shoe-billed stork, which came to Japan from Tanzania in April 2013.

Initially, she lived at Nasu Animal Kingdom in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, and had repeatedly failed to breed. She was then loaned to Noichi Zoological Park in Konan, Kochi Prefecture, to be paired with a male shoebill, Sasa, whose age is unknown.

Kashishi has lived in the zoo’s indoor exhibit for the public to view since early January. She often follows her keeper who brings her food, spreads her wings wide after she finishes eating and even moves around to turn her back on visitors.

When she arrived from Tochigi Prefecture on Dec. 20, she bowed as if greeting others, according to the zoo.

Her keeper is rather concerned about the uncharacteristic behavior of Kashishi.

“Shoebills are largely solitary by nature. Being friendly to humans makes it easier to manage the bird, but I am a little worried that it will interfere with her breeding with Sasa,” the keeper said.

Only three have ever hatched in captivity — two in Belgium in 2008 and the other in the United States in 2009.