For more than a decade, people from all over the state have traveled to one New Mexico zoo to see a strange sight — a talking raven named “Joe.”
“He’s either really, really cool to people or really, really creepy,” said Mark Yannotti, the assistant zoo director at Hillcrest Park.
Fifteen years ago, Joe came to the zoo in Clovis as a rescue at just a couple of weeks old.
The zoo says he started talking about a year after his arrival.
“Having a voice like him is pretty unique in this area. Wild ones don’t generally pick up what people say,” said Yannotti.
Now, he’s one of the most popular animals at the zoo.
Craig Gergen and his son paid the zoo a visit Tuesday to see it for themselves.
“He wanted to see the monkeys and the birds, especially Joe,” said Gergen.
One of his favorite phrases? ‘The hangman’s coming.’
Yannotti says one of the keepers that first took care of Joe was a big Jimi Hendrix fan.
“There is a Jimi Hendrix tune called ‘Hey Joe’ and in the end of it, that’s one of the lines, is ‘Hey Joe, the hangman’s coming’ and so he taught it to him. He picked it up really quickly,” said Yannotti.
They say some people come to the zoo just to hear him say it.
“The first time I heard it, I was a little creeped out, but he wasn’t. He thought it was hilarious because he never heard a bird talk before,” said Gergen.
“He does have a big following,” said Yannotti. “They’ve seen him on YouTube, want to see it for themselves. A lot of people think we dub a voice in there – oh, no.”
Joe even sometimes imitates the sounds the peacocks make.
“We’ll be back several more times,” said Gergen.
Yannotti says Joe is there to stay and will live out the rest of his life at the zoo.