Post by: Jenyva Turner
Often, when people think of vultures, unpleasant images come to mind. However, when you learn more about them, we think you’ll agree that vultures are amazing! Not only do they have many interesting adaptations that make them unique, they are, more importantly, vital to the health of ecosystems around the world. No other scavenger is better equipped to deal with death and disease than the vulture. From strong stomach acids to featherless heads, vultures use their unique assets to prevent disease from spreading, while keeping themselves clean and healthy in the process.
This is the fourth year vulture conservation has been featured as one of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s (CMZ) Quarters for Conservation (Q4C) programs. To date, over $25,000 has been raised through Q4C and sent to VulPro, a non-profit conservation organization in South Africa that focuses on vulture conservation. Organizations like VulPro are critical to the health and welfare of vultures, as vulture populations around the world are declining due to poisoning, power line electrocutions and poaching. VulPro is involved in many aspects of conservation from population monitoring, captive breeding, reintroduction, rehabilitation, research and education.
|A chick hatched at VulPro .|
CMZ has been a significant contributor towards VulPro’s programs. The first year, the Zoo supported VulPro’s rehabilitation work and purchased chest freezers to store food and medicine. Two years ago, CMZ purchased GPS tracking devices to monitor the migration of adult
Cape vultures. Last year’s funds paid for the expansion
of the Cape vulture artificial breeding cliffs at VulPro so more vulture chicks
can be raised and released into the wild. And this year, CMZ is helping develop
and fund VulPro’s educational program for schools across South Africa, enabling
the next generation to learn about the value of vultures.
CMZ is also involved in educational work right here at home, teaching Zoo guests about the importance of vultures during the Wings of Africa bird show held daily in African Rift Valley. Additionally, CMZ participates annually in International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), which was created by staff from VulPro and CMZ and is now celebrated all over the world on the first Saturday of September. Many kids and adults alike have grown in their appreciation for these misunderstood birds. This year’s IVAD event will be held on Saturday, September 1, 2012 from 10am-2pm in CMZ’s African Rift Valley. Come join us and see for yourself how cool vultures are and learn more about what you can do to help them!