Shoebills, native to Africa, were first brought to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo in 2002. Although they resemble Big Bird of “Sesame Street” fame, with their exaggerated beaks and chopstick legs, their eyes are anything but friendly.

Naoki Tabata, assistant director of Ueno Zoological Gardens, is well aware the birds’ scary stare isn’t as engaging as the warm, fuzzy look of the zoo’s late beloved giant panda. But it’s still a draw.

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