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For the second time in Zoo Miami’s history, a Cinereous vulture has hatched and is successfully being raised by its parents!  The hatching occurred on April 12th in a secluded area of the zoo where the monogamous pair had built a nest on a platform and had been incubating the single egg for approximately 50 days.  Because of the parent’s sensitivity to any external activity, the pair was not disturbed for the first several days and zookeepers only approached the area to provide food and then quickly left.  It wasn’t until recently that staff was able to get a good look at the chick in the nest and determine that it appears healthy and growing.  

The father’s name is “Valentino” and he hatched at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in California in 2009.  The female’s name is “Tessa” and she hatched at the Buffalo Zoo in 2010.  This is the second surviving chick for the pair.  Cinereous vultures are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which Zoo Miami participates in and is designed to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable population for the long-term future of the species.

Cinereous vultures are the largest of the Old World vultures with females growing larger than males.  With a wingspan that can exceed 9 feet, a large female can weigh over 20 pounds.  They are found in various parts of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  Because they have a special type of hemoglobin in their blood, they can reach extreme heights while soaring to find their food and have been observed on Mount Everest at over 20,000 feet.

Though their main diet consists of carrion, unlike most other vultures, Cinereous vultures have relatively powerful talons and have been known to sometimes kill smaller prey.  They are considered “Near Threatened” and their numbers have been greatly reduced over the last hundred years due to poisoning, habitat loss and the reduction of their food supply.  They have become extinct over several parts of their previous range.  Fortunately, recent conservation and education programs have resulted in a small population increase over the last several years.

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