An exotic bird at the National Zoo got a new artificial beak two years ago, and as keepers had hoped, it has apparently helped his social life.

Karl, an Abyssinian ground hornbill, had a new beak built for him with a 3-D printer, to replace one that was wearing away and wasn’t doing the job.

For a male hornbill, the zoo said, it takes a sturdy beak to find a mate. The prominent facial feature, about eight inches long, is used to bring her tasty treats, carry leaves and twigs for building a nest, and even preening her feathers.

With his prosthetic beak, the zoo said, Karl seems to be doing well, again gobbling up crickets and mealworms. .

“With his confidence restored,” the zoo said, he has the chance to bond with another bird, which “may not have been possible with his old beak.”

When Karl, 30, came here in 2012, one reason was to breed new hornbills.

In accordance with a species survival plan, the zoo said, Karl was introduced in June to a new roommate, It was the one year old Karoline, brought here from Florida.

But it will be a few years before Karoline reaches sexual maturity, the zoo said. For now, the two are friends. But they are less lovebirds than, in the zoo’s words, “just companions.”