Thursday 8 December 2016

Screen vulture Alex learning to fly

Published 19/08/2010 | 03:27

Alex the vulture takes to the skies as he is encouraged to fly at Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park.
Alex the vulture takes to the skies as he is encouraged to fly at Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park.

Former animal actor Alex the vulture is on his way to be flying fit after an operation on his foot, safari park staff said.

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The Ruppell's Griffon Vulture, which is named Alex after he starred in the Hollywood film Alexander featuring actor Colin Farrell, had the first joint of a toe removed after an infection had developed.

Alex took two months to recover from the operation in February last year but is now back on track to peak fitness at Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park in Stirlingshire.

Staff at the park believe the 11-year-old bird, which has a wingspan of 8ft and weighs just over 13lbs, never learned to fly properly when it was young.

Head of birds of prey at the park, Ross Bibby, 31, has been helping train Alex to fly again.

Mr Bibby climbs a 25ft high pole to encourage the bird to fly up for food, including bits of chicken, as part of Alex's training.

He said: "He'd previously been an animal actor, he was in the film Alexander most notably, and had a few broken feathers when he arrived and he was quite unfit.

"We put him through a moult, which took a while where he shed feathers. Then we started flying him, fairly simply at first, post to post, just to get a bit of basic fitness. Then we put up a big pole, which was my colleague's idea, and started flying him from the base of that to the top of it.

"It is great for his fitness and really works him very hard. Once he is up there it is much easier for him to fly and so he can spend a bit of time in the air and start to learn to fly properly."

Mr Bibby said Alex's progress had been "massive".

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