Chicken at the Honolulu Zoo plays the piano

By Ashley Moser
Published On: Feb 21 2014 05:23:00 PM HST

Keepers at the Honolulu Zoo have trained a chicken to play on the piano.


Hawk is no ordinary hen.  Sure, she lays an egg once a day and eats chicken feed for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  But, keepers say she's a bit different than the rest of the bunch.

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"I've tried different chickens.  But, Hawk here seems to be the most willing to learn.  She's eager to learn," said animal zoo keeper Miki Nagatoshi at the Honolulu Zoo.

Nagatoshi trained Hawk to ring a bell, leap through a hoop and even play piano.  Tricks that some say couldn't be done.

"Chickens are so underrated because everybody thinks chickens can't learn anything," said Nagatoshi.  "All they're good for is, ya know, to eat and lay eggs.  But, we're here to prove them wrong."

And prove them wrong they did.  Keepers trained Hawk in four months to perform for crowds at the Honolulu Zoo.

They not only taught her to tickle the ivories, but also to recognize different colors.

"Positive reinforcement.  That's how we got her with these behaviors," said Nagatoshi.

Nagatoshi says training promotes mental stimulation.  The idea is to keep the training sessions short and sweet so that the animals won't get bored to frustrated.

Nagatoshi admits that Hawk can be difficult at times, but she says it's worth it.

"She makes a lot of kids happy and it kind of proves that chickens are underrated," said Nagatoshi.  "You know, chickens, they can be smart.  They make good pets."

As for the answer to that question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?"  In Hawks case, it may just be to play the piano.

Keepers say Hawk will perform "Happy Birthday" to any children who celebrate at the Honolulu Zoo.  But, they say, of course, as most performers do, she gets a case of stage fright here and there.


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