The Woodland Park Zoo recently announced the birth of a Chilean flamingo, the first ever born at the zoo. (Photo by Ryan Hawk, WPZ.)
Contrast that bit of cuteness with the ominous looking turkey vulture that the zoo is celebrating on Saturday at International Vulture Awareness Day. (Photo by Dennis Connor, WPZ.)
From 12-3 p.m. at the zoo’s Raptor Center, you can chat with guest biologist Diann MacRae, watch a raptor free-flight program and listen to a keeper talk on turkey vultures.
Vultures are scavenging birds that help recycle and prevent the spread of disease. Woodland Park Zoo is home to the turkey vulture, a species that ranges from southern Canada to South America. Turkey vulture numbers declined in the 1950s and 1960s, most likely due to the mistaken belief that they spread diseases. Shooting and poisoned baits often targeted these useful birds. Populations have increased in recent years, due to less persecution and safer use of pesticides. Contaminants and habitat loss continue to threaten other vulture species, particularly in southern Asia, where some species have been nearly forced to extinction.