Denver Zoo will offer a number of special activities to honor International Vulture Awareness Day on September 1. Vultures are an ecologically vital group of birds that face a range of threats in their habitats around the world. Populations of many species are under pressure and some are facing the very real possibility of extinction.
Groups from around the world will celebrate this day with special activities that highlight the importance of the vulture. Denver Zoo will host three keeper talk stations during the day and docents will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to share information with guests.
- Lappet-faced vultures at 10:00 a.m.
- Andean Condor at Noon
- Cinereous vulture at 2:30 p.m.
International Vulture Awareness Day is important to help spread the word about the plight and importance of all vulture species and to highlight the work done by conservationists to monitor populations and implement effective measures to conserve these birds and their habitats.
There are 23 species of vultures and condors around the world and of those, 11 are threatened in some way. Three species of vultures on the Indian sub-continent have become critically endangered in the last 10 years, which has raised much concern among the wildlife conservationists. This region has seen their vulture population decline by 99%- some 40 million birds. As a result, cases of human and animal diseases are on the increase. An anti-inflammatory drug called Diclofenac used to treat fever and inflammation in livestock, resulted in their rapid decline. The livestock were treated with Diclofenac, died, the vultures consumed their carcasses, and as a result the vultures died of acute kidney failure. Diclofenac has a 100% kill rate on Gyps vultures, which is the hardest hit species of vulture known to-date. This drug in now banned (as of 2006) in Nepal, Pakistan and India but is still being used in other countries around the world where vultures live.
Vultures in other parts of Asia as well as in Africa are dying at rapid rates as well. Poisoning, persecution, electrocutions and collisions with power lines, drowning in farm reservoirs, hunting for parts to be used in traditional folk medicine, loss of habitat, breeding colony disturbance and lack of food are some of the threats vultures face around the world.
Please join us to learn a bit more about these often misunderstood birds and why their roll in the environment is vital to ecological balance.