In the Real World
Red-billed hornbills, the only species to have been featured in the show, usually have a white head and underparts. Their upperparts are varying shades of grey, and their wings are spotted with white. They sport large, curved red beaks. The red-billed is one of the smaller hornbills. Males and females look similar, but females have smaller bills. They are listed least concern by the World Conservation Union.
In The Lion Guard
In The Lion Guard, the only known hornbill is a red-billed hornbill (Zazu). He has blue feathers with darker tips, a very large red and golden break, dark reddish orange feet, and a white underbelly.
Red-billed hornbills are birds native to Africa. They feed off of insects, fruits, and seeds.
Zazu appears occasionally in The Lion Guard series. He appears as majordomo to Simba. He is the only hornbill to have appeared in The Lion Guard so far.Zazu the hornbill appears briefly, announcing that he has found Kion as he leads Simba to him. He then lands on a rock.
Hornbills, Hyenas, Jackals, & Vultures are mentoned
Zazu leaves Pride Rock along with Simba and Nala to attend Aminifu's funeral. As Simba becomes concerned over his speech, Zazu points out that the elephants are very fond of tradition, and that it shouldn't be too hard for him to say the phrase in elephantese. Simba isn't convinced, but Zazu promises him that he'll get him speaking the language in no time. Later, Simba, still concerned, begins to doubt his position as king. Zazu attempts to jog his memory on the better tasks associated with his title, and Nala urges Zazu to go in depth. He reminds Simba of the wonderful duties of the king, and eventually, Simba feels at ease again, thanking Zazu for the reminder. Zazu promises him once again that he'll get him speaking elephantese in no time, causing Simba to become fretful once again. Simba still struggles to grasp the elephantese language, despite numerous attempts from Zazu to help him learn. In a temper, Simba roars at Zazu, knocking him into a nearby puddle. Seeing her mate's frustration, Nala tries to comfort Simba, jogging his memory to what they had recently discussed. Simba thanks Nala, and calls Zazu back, who collapses in a heap from the roar.
Zazu is seen directing a chorus of animals rehearsing a song for the Kupatana Celebration . He stops them when Mbuni makes a mistake and explains the correct lyrics for the song. He later appears directing the animal chorus during their performance at Kupatana.
Zazu flies into the Lair of the Lion Guard and informs them that a rockslide caused the giraffes to be blocked from their watering hole. He notes that Ono would have known had he been on the lookout, then, catching sight of the egret's head, which is missing its crest feathers, gasps and jumps. Bunga insists that there's nothing wrong with Ono, and Zazu simply reminds them that the giraffes need their help. When Ono is hesitant to go help, Zazu assertively ushers him along.
The Lion Guard have gathered around a tree, where Zazu has gotten his beak stuck in a beehive. Bunga starts to help him out and eventually succeeds in freeing the hornbill by forcibly pulling on his body. Zazu is about to thank him for the help when the bees start to surround him, and Bunga pushes him away to snack on a few. When Bunga has finished, he advises Zazu to fly over the beehive next time instead of straight into it, and Zazu offers him a half-hearted thank you in return for his assistance. Fuli asks Zazu why he was in such a hurry, and he informs them that he was actually looking for the Lion Guard anyway. He explains that the pangolins have been spraying, and the situation is starting to get stinky. Ono is concerned, commenting that pangolins only usually do that when they feel threatened. With this information in mind, Kion leads the Lion Guard away to deal with the problem, while Zazu remains behind, seemingly confident that the Lion Guard can handle the situation themselves.
Zazu is due to escort Simba to the Savannah Summit, but he arrives just in time to see a conflict break out between Makuu and Kion, which worries him. But things are quickly resolved, and Zazu guides several leaders to Mizimu Grove, telling them that they can build some trust for the event. Later, Zazu ends up getting squashed by Mbeya's bottom. He cries out for help and the Lion Guard arrive on the scene, where they discover that Mbeya was offended by an opprobrious remark that Zazu made. But it is soon revealed that the remark was actually from Big Baboon, who was angry at Mbeya for bumping into him earlier. Realising that Zazu was innocent, Mbeya lifts himself up and, after Big Baboon issues him with an apology, apologises to Zazu himself. Zazu then asks if he will make it into the official portrait and Rafiki promises him that it won't... At least, not the official one.
Zazu flies around Simba and Nala as they observe the Pride Lands.
When Bupu winds up trapping his horns in a tree branch, the commotion between him and a residing bird named Nyuni draws the attention of Zazu, who investigates the situation. Much to Bupu's annoyance, Zazu confirms that he'll be putting the scene into his Morning Report. Kion then has an idea, and the branch is broken off, leaving Nyuni's nest on the tree branch, allowing him to view more of the Pride Lands along the way. After Bupu leads his herd away, Zazu praises Kion for his original idea before departing to find more ongoing events, reminding Bupu not to get his horns stuck again. Kion then recalls an event from his childhood, where he and Bunga were called by Zazu to return home as per his father's wishes.
Kion tells Zazu that they're on an adventure, but Fuli cries out and speeds past before he can continue. When Fuli won't slow down for the hornbill, he takes off after her, allowing Kion and Bunga to continue. When Zazu turns around, the pair has left. Zazu locates the cubs just in time to save them from Pua's float. Zazu confirms that Kion is the King's son, much to their surprise. But Makuu also states that they initiated a challenge, and Pua backs his float member up, stating that Simba respects the crocodile ways. Zazu also confirms his respect for their ways, and leaps into Makuu's open mouth, telling the crocodiles that he is responsible for Kion and will take his place. Seeing his bravery, Pua allows Zazu to live in respect for the king and warns the cubs not to come to their area again uninvited. Back in the present, Zazu inspects a clearing, checking that the bushes aren't too pointy. But he is ambushed by Janja, Cheezi and Chungu, much to his disgust. Without revealing much of their plan, Chungu picks the hornbill up in his mouth, and they return to the Outlands, imprisoning him in a bone cage.
Janja leaves him alone with Cheezi and Chungu, who starts to taunt him. They consider eating him, though Zazu is quick to remind him that Janja won't be happy for ruining their plan. The pair thank Zazu for the reminder, which later gives Zazu an idea. He tries to persuade Cheezi and Chungu into letting him free by claiming that they are smarter than Janja, and explaining to them that the smart thing to do would be to let him go free. Just when Chungu is about to do just that, Janja arrives. He orders Zazu to talk, but the hornbill is left unintimidated by the trio. When the rest of Janja's clan arrive, Zazu feigns defeat, before crying out at the top of his voice for help. Annoyed, Janja rolls the cage to the steam vent, prompting Zazu to finally give in. He opens up to them about Simba, but none of the information is helpful to the hyenas.
When he finishes, the information is of no use to the hyenas and they decide to eat him instead, letting the steam warm him up. But the Lion Guard arrive just in time and start to fight Janja's Clan, with Zazu commenting on their skills. His excitement soon vanishes when he notices Fuli being backed up against a ledge, unaware that she is close to falling off into the lava behind her. He forces his cage to roll into the offending hyenas, but after doing so, they knock him down a slope by mistake. Kion notices this and swiftly uses the Roar of the Elders, guiding the power into the lava to create a small safe spot. The rib cage breaks on impact and Zazu is set free. After thanking Kion, he joins the Lion Guard, and the hyenas retreat. Back at Pride Rock, Zazu is about to impart the Morning Report to Simba and the Lion Guard, even though night has descended.
Zazu is disappointed at his tardiness but is assured that he's not at fault. Fuli even extends her thanks to Zazu for saving her and states that she owes him one, but the hornbill returns the gratitude. Kion, however, claims that they are now even, reminding him of the day he saved him from the crocodiles. Zazu remembers that day but hurries along with the Morning Report.
Zazu appears briefly, telling Simba that Hadithi has just arrived with the gorilla warrior Shujaa and that The Lion Guard has gathered all the other herds.
Zazu makes a non-speaking cameo appearance.
- Southern yellow-billed hornbills are common in Kruger National Park.