When the African Journey opened at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo back in the 1970’s, one of the first residents was Edgar the Maribou Stork. Fast forward today and he’s still there! At about 40 years old, he’s actually the oldest resident in the African Journey.
Edgar is not what you’d expect when you hear the word “stork.” He stands at about 4.5 feet tall, has an incredible 8ft wingspan bird, weighs in at about 15-20 pounds. Maribou storks are considered to be the 3rd largest bird in the world (in terms of wingspan) and are one of the heaviest fliers.
Out on the veldt in the African Journey, zookeepers feed Edgar fish and mice twice a day. Meanwhile in the wild, Maribou Storks act as scavengers and snatch up any kind of meat they can find – usually little things like reptiles and amphibians. They are fond of grassy areas, particularly when there are brush fires. In fact, these birds have actually been seen marching along the edge of a brush fire to catch any rodents or reptiles that will come running out and scurrying. They’re very intelligent birds!
Many of the animal species at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo have nicknames and the Maribou Stork is no different with a nickname like “the undertaker bird.” The reason why is because their black feathers resemble a long black suit jacket and they’re often bent over in a hunched-back pose, almost as if they’re mourning.
It’s said that white storks usually bring babies and life. Meanwhile, it’s said that Maribou Storks bring nightmares because of their appearance.
Since Edgar is such a smart bird with such a big wingspan, why doesn’t he fly away? Edgar is a pinioned bird. As a very young chick, he had a bone removed from his wing, which prevents the primary flight feathers from growing in.
Stop by and visit Edgar in the African Journey this summer!