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Did you know that Saturday 4th September 2021 is International Vulture Awareness Day? Did you also know that at the Lake District Wildlife Park, every day is a vulture awareness day for Gonzo the Hooded Vulture and his bird Keepers?
Vultures are the most endangered group of birds in the World with some species at risk of extinction. They are under threat from poisoning, electrocution, and habitat loss. They are also not the prettiest of birds, with a bald, featherless head, a hooked beak and are often misconceived as being dirty due to their diet of carrion. However, if you take a little time to learn about them you will soon realise that they are amazing.
Vultures form an extremely important part of the food chain. They clear away the rotting flesh of mammals, which reduces the spread of disease. They must have an incredible digestive system as they do not appear to contract any disease themselves. Apart from being the “clean-up crew” they also have some interesting adaptations to enable them to survive. Turkey Vultures have an incredible sense of smell, being able to detect a carcass from over a mile away.
The Lake District Wildlife Park supports the International Vulture Programme who work with partner organisations to help to conserve these birds in the wild. The main way the Park contributes is through raising awareness. It houses three Vultures: Baldric and Farnham, two Turkey Vultures and Gonzo the Hooded Vulture. Baldric is 11, Gonzo is 16 and Farnham is approximately 23 years old. The two Turkey Vultures can often be seen sitting with their wings outstretched which helps them warm up, cool down or dry off. This is an impressive sight when you see the huge expanse of their wings at close range.
Gonzo, a real character has been at the Lake District Wildlife Park for 4 years. He features in the daily Bird of Prey flying displays whilst his Keeper explains how these birds live in the wild. Gonzo is a bit of a lazy bird and after circling in the air showing off his flying skills, he will drop to the ground preferring to walk around rather than fly. The Lake District Wildlife Park also raise money through the sale of wrist bands which is then sent onto the International Vulture Programme to help fund the protection of Vultures. If you would like to join or learn more about these magnificent birds, pop down to the Park, and watch one of our popular bird of prey displays. Our Bird Keepers are always happy to stop and talk about birds!