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From Hornets To Pelicans: Animal Behavior Experts On New Orleans' New NBA Mascot

The Hornets have played their last game under that team name. Next season they become the Pelicans. The change is meant to tie the team more closely to New Orleans, but it also means the team has a whole new brand, and a new feel to it.

WWNO’s Eve Troeh sat down with two animal experts to take a literal approach to the change from Hornets to Pelicans. Carolyn Atherton is assistant curator of birds at Audubon Zoo. Zach Lemann directs programs at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.

Atherton pointed out the pelican's ability to ward off enemies and intimidate rivals with its sharp beak tooth and aggressive wing flapping. Lemann made a case for the hornet as an excellent mascot, for its fierce, stinging defensive reputation.

Hugo the Hornet did a fine job imitating a real hornet's movement with the signature abdomen wiggle, said Lemann, though he points out hornets have six limbs, not four.

Atherton invited the Pelicans mascot — who will be the same performer who's been playing Hugo — to check out the pelicans at the zoo for some ideas on how to move in a biologically-authentic fashion.

This news content made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.