A viral video of a talking raven recently set TikTok ablaze, but what is the story behind this bird, this video, and his scary words?
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In the video, a man and a child can be heard encouraging the raven, who is in a cage, to speak, calling out, “Who is coming?” and even translating to Spanish, “¿Quién viene?” Then, the raven opens its beak and croaks out, “Hangman’s coming!” to everyone’s scared delight.
What’s really going on in this video? Is this raven a portent of doom? It seems likely, considering the news these days, but I wanted to learn more, so I did some digging. Turns out, it’s a repost of an older YouTube video from 2016. And the raven with the scary saying? Well, that’s just Joe.
Joe the Raven was brought into the Hillcrest Park Zoo in Clovis, New Mexico, when he was a juvenile more than fifteen years ago. Because he was unable to return to the wild, Joe was kept by the zookeepers, who soon trained him to talk. The skill is pretty unusual for wild ravens in the area, but Joe was chatty. Because one of his keepers was a big fan of the Jimi Hendrix song, “Hey Joe” he taught the avian Joe the line, “the hangman’s coming” and it soon became the bird’s signature phrase. Now folks come to Hillcrest Park specifically to visit the bird and hear him portend doom.
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Though ravens in the wild rarely live past ten or fifteen years, in captivity, with proper care and diet, can be far longer, so here’s hoping for many more years with Joe the talking raven.