Above: A first for Atlanta Zoo: the lappet-faced vulture chick. Photo: courtesy of Zoo Atlanta

 

AN ENDANGERED LAPPET-FACED vulture chick has hatched at Zoo Atlanta after 12 infertile eggs and more than eight years of the adult pair trying.

In a first for the zoo, based in Georgia, US, the lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotos) hatched for parents Anubis, 16, and Amana, 18.

Male Anubis has lived at Zoo Atlanta since 2008. In 2010, he was joined by female Amana on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Lappet-faced Vulture Species Survival Plan.

Prior to this hatching, the birds had many unsuccessful breeding attempts in eight years. To celebrate the news, the zoo’s associate curator of birds, Lauren Wilson, took over its social media pages on June 3 to explain why this hatching is so important and the tremendous effort that went into its success.

She said: “Anubis immediately showed signs of being a good father by brooding the chick. Then we gave Amana access to the chick and, surprisingly, Anubis became incredibly defensive! It took a long time for Anubis to let Amana near the chick, and even longer for him to leave them alone together.”

Anubis continues to do most of the brooding and feeding.

“We are always thrilled to see first-time animal parents succeed,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, vice president of collections and conservation at the zoo.

She continued: “This is also a testament to the enormous commitment of our bird team, who have worked over a period of many years to provide opportunities and innovations to help this pair flourish.”

The adult vultures added to and completed a nest constructed by keepers, over a period of five months. Shortly after, they produced two eggs, both of which were infertile; the third and last egg of the season proved fertile. Due to the adults’ inexperience as parents, keepers removed the egg to an artificial incubator and replaced it on the nest with a dummy egg. The chick hatched 54 days later on April 24, and following 10 days of hand-rearing, was reintroduced to its parents.

Find out more about Zoo Atlanta at: https://zooatlanta.org

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