This post written by Samantha Montgomery & Jessica Clark
While the black and turkey vultures we see here seem so abundant to us, there are many species worldwide that range from threatened, to facing extinction. Every year zoos and institutions around the world celebrate International Vulture Awareness Day to educate the public on the plight of the vulture. Last December, the Houston Zoo celebrated IVAD by helping to raise money in support of the efforts of the Cambodia Vulture Conservation Project. We held keeper chats, vulture feedings, crafts, face painting, family friendly educational activities, and will do so again Saturday, November 10th.
Here at the zoo we will also have a wide variety of items for sale with all money raised going to CVCP. As something a little different for all you trend setters and one-of-a-kinders, look online for our vintage inspired dresses with a modern flair. Graciously handmade by San Antonio designer Crissy Baker, co-owner of Nerd Alert Designs whose work is rapidly gaining fame. Crissy’s designs have recently been featured on Gizmodo.com, in The San Antonio Express News, and worn by Chloe Dykstra on Epic Meal Time (The Crispy Tauntaun episode). These unique and trendy bird inspired designs, available only in the Nerd Alert Designs store, are sure to make a fashionable statement and are for a great cause! With so few available don’t miss out before these charming frocks fly the coop!
One of the important goals of CVCP is to provide safe, clean carcasses for the vultures to feed on at “vulture restaurants” for their 3 critically endangered Asian vulture species; Slender-billed, Red-headed, and White-rumped. With such a great number of the large mammal populations plummeting, and the use of the chemical diclofenac in livestock, a good meal is hard to find. Diclofenac is fatal when consumed by vultures who feed on the carcasses once the livestock dies. So when a meal becomes available, it may not always be safe. At these designated restaurants about $200 can buy a clean carcass free of diclofenac, and ensure a safe meal. With a safe method of providing reliable food efforts can be continued in other areas such as breeding and population studies. Cambodiais currently the only Southeast Asian country to show an increase in their vulture populations, so they must be doing something right!
(Photo from WCS)
Last year, the bird department here at the Houston Zoo raised enough money to ensure at least a few safe meals, and this November 10th we hope to do so again. We will continue our work spreading the word on the hardships facing vultures, and teach people about the vital role they play in our world. Education is the first step we can take to help bring these endangered species back from the brink of extinction.
Be sure to join us for the celebration, but it doesn’t need to be Vulture Day to swing by and say hello to our resident vultures here at the Houston Zoo. Just inside the Fischer Bird Gardens are the King Vultures. Natives of South America, these forest dwellers are bright and colorful beauties. While our male is a fun and frisky 4 years old, our female is at least 31 years old!
Across the zoo located near the elephant bull yard are the Cinereous Vultures who range all across Asia and the 2nd largest vulture species in the world! Our male, Mozart, is 21 years old, and our female, Alex, is 28!
Can’t wait until Saturday, November 10th to show your support? Check out all the hard work the Cambodia Vulture Conservation Project and WCS are doing and donate directly.
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