International Vulture Awareness Day is Sept. 3

After a cooling shower on a warm day: Turkey vulture Zorro

This day was established in order to highlight worldwide vulture conservation and awareness. Vultures are critically important to the world’s ecosystem, an ecologically vital group of birds that face a range of threats in many areas of the world. Populations of some species, such as the Cape Griffon vulture in Africa and the Oriental white-backed vulture of India, are even facing extinction. Many zoos and wildlife organizations throughout the world are actively participating in this event to prevent such catastrophic consequences

The near-extinction of the California Condor is well-known, of course. But the related Turkey Vultures, which range from North to South America, seriously declined in the 1950s and 1960s, most likely due to the mistaken belief that they spread diseases. Shooting and poisoned baits often targeted these valuable birds, which serve as nature’s “recyclers”, scavengers that help recycle and prevent the spread of disease. Fortunately, populations have increased in recent years, due to less persecution and safer use of pesticides so that there is less likelihood that the vultures will die from second- or third-hand poisoning from eating animals that have died from poisoned bait.

W.E.R.C. is doing its part, both in ensuring that turkey vultures that are injured or orphaned become healthy, wild birds again and, with the assistance of its non-releasable animal ambassador, Zorro, teaching the public about the wonders and worth of the magnificent bird. He will be appearing at W.E.R.C.’s display during the Taste of Morgan Hill, Sept. 24-25. Stop by and meet him and W.E.R.C.’s other animal ambassadors.


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