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New Vulture Chick at the Zoo

Baby is part of a Species Survival Plan.

February 28, 2018 - There is a new addition to the ABQ BioPark’s vulture flock. Father Nine and mother Chatamik welcomed a new Cape griffon vulture chick in late January.

In 2015, the species was listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the ABQ BioPark is participating in a Species Survival Plan.

“We are very excited to welcome this addition to the vulture family at the BioPark and look to continue this breeding program into the future,” said Zookeeper Dylan Frentzel.

Cape griffon vultures, like many bird species, are monogamous. The male and female grow their bond by building a nest together. BioPark staff provides the vulture pair with construction materials like twigs and love grass, which is grown on grounds.

“When they build the nest together it really solidifies the bond,” said Frentzel.

A new Cape griffon vulture baby at the ABQ BioPark.

After the female lays her egg, it incubates for about two months. The vultures take a collaborative approach to parenting from the start by sharing egg sitting duties, according to Frentzel.

Cape griffon vulture chicks take about four months to fledge, or develop wing feathers that are large enough for flight. They become a bit more independent after fledging, but still may receive some care from mom and dad.

This is Nine and Chatamik’s second chick. The pair welcomed a male baby in 2014, which is now at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado.

Keepers do not yet know the gender of the new chick. You can see it in the vulture exhibit in Africa. While the bird is small now, it can be spied with binoculars. As it grows larger, it will be easier for visitors to spot.

The BioPark now has five Cape griffon vultures and one lappet-faced vulture. The Cape griffon is the heaviest of the 11 African vulture species and can live about 40 years.

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