Virginia Safari Park welcomes extremely rare Ruppell’s Griffon vulture chick. The female chick, named Salazar, hatched early the morning of March 26th.
While animal care specialists at the park had been hopeful of the hatching any day, they were pleasantly surprised to find both parents already busying themselves with caring for the new chick. This is the first chick for the new parents, “Slytherin” and “Gryffindor”. Ruppell’s griffon vultures mate for life so both parents shared in incubating and hatching the single egg over a two month period.
“Few zoos in the country are dedicated to raising these rare vultures. We currently have four young adult vultures and are very happy that two have paired up and are successfully raising their first chick,” said Collections Manager, Sarah Friedel. “In a species this critically endangered, every hatching is a very big deal.”
Ruppell's griffon vultures are a critically endangered species from central Africa. Wild populations have recently declined at an alarming rate. The species was considered sustainable in 2004, became threatened in 2007 and then critically endangered in 2015. Wild vulture populations continue to decline further with habitat loss, waning food sources, trade hunting, and deliberate poisoning. Ruppell’s griffon vultures may live 15-20 years in the wild in the best of circumstances but exceed 40 years in managed zoological settings.