Wild Encounters: Vultures

Wild Encounters

(WJBF) – This week, we have a first on Wild Encounters as we talk about vultures.

We’re here back at Riverbanks Zoo with Samantha and we are looking at a very special kind of vulture today.

So, Samantha, why don’t you tell us a little bit about it?

Samantha Amstutz, Senior Bird Keeper: We are here with our Cinereous vultures. We have two on habitat — a male and a female — and they’re actually a new breeding pair. We just introduced our female to our male on habitat. So, it’s pretty exciting for us right now.”

What’s the difference between a Cinereous vulture and a regular vulture?

Samantha: “So, a Cinereous vulture is an old world vulture. So, they live on the other side of the ocean. They live in Asia, Europe…that area up there. That’s why they’re also called a Eurasian Black vulture. That’s the name they go as on that side. The vultures we have here are known as Black vultures and Turkey vultures…known as New World vultures.”

This particular vulture does it have a name? Whats its time like here?

Samantha: So our Cinereous Vultures do have names. We have our male vulture, Walter who is 21 years old and Mira our female who is 9 years old, so there is a little age difference between them but Cinereous vultures can live up to 60 years old. The oldest Cinereous vulture in the North American Population is 61.

Whats their diet like?

Samantha: “So, as you know, other vultures are the garbage collectors of our ecosystems and our vultures eat a carnivorous diet, too. We feed them rats…they also get some ribs and a meat blend. The wild Cinereous vulture population is, unfortunately, declining. There’s less than 5,000 individuals, which is common with a lot of animals across the globe. They suffer from habitat loss and secondhand poisoning, since they are eating those animals that might be poisoned; but here in North America there’s less than 50. So, Walter and Mira are actually two of those individuals that are part of our breeding conservation efforts. So, here at Riverbanks that’s our hope to get these vultures to form a solid bond and hopefully breed to help build their population.”

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