Say ‘Hi’ to 2 of Nashville Zoo’s newest species – maleos

Nashville Zoo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Lucy and Larson, a brother and sister pair of Maleos, are two of the newest species you can see on exhibit at the Nashville Zoo.

“These guys are endemic to the island of Sulawesi, in Indonesia, and that’s the only place you can find those guys,” said Olivia Lagrand, Avian Keeper.

Lagrand said these birds mostly hang out on the ground but can fly to get up in trees and away from predators.

They also have an interesting feature on top of their heads. “One of the unique structures that you see that everyone looks at first is the cask on top of their head,” said Lagrand. “That is made out of keratin, which is the same material as your hair and fingernails.”

But, it’s not just their looks that set them apart. These jungle-dwelling birds head to the beach when it’s time to lay their eggs.

“They go to these communal nesting spots, which are a sand area. And they will actually dig into the ground, almost a meter into the ground, and they have temperature sensors in their mouth.” She continued, “They can put the sand in their mouth and taste the temperature of the sand until it gets to about 91 degrees, which is the temperature where they want to lay their eggs.”

They lay one egg at a time, and it’s a big one. Maleo eggs weigh half a pound and are five times the size of a chicken egg. The incubation period can take anywhere from 60 to 90 days.

“When they do come out, it takes about one to two days for the baby to dig out of the sand up to the surface. And then they are totally on their own at that point. They come out of the sand and fly into a tre,e and they are living by themselves,” said Lagrand.

If you want to see Lucy and Larson, head to the Critter Encounters section on your next trip to the Nashville Zoo.

News 2 has partnered with Nashville Zoo to bring you weekly segments of Zoopalooza. You can watch them on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and right here on

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