Saturday 24 February 2018

Vultures enjoy daily walk round zoo

Zookeeper Grant Kother walking Jaffar the vulture (ZSL London Zoo/PA)
Zookeeper Grant Kother walking Jaffar the vulture (ZSL London Zoo/PA)

Dog walking is a familiar sight to most people, but visitors to London Zoo may spot keepers taking a more unusual walk on the wild side - with a pair of vultures.

Black vultures Guido and Jaffar are being taken for a daily stroll around the zoo with their keepers, to encourage the newly paired males to establish a firm friendship before starring together in the "Deadly Birds" demonstration when it returns in the spring.

Nine-year-old Jaffar is a new arrival at the zoo, and will be joining 10-year-old pro Guido in the demonstration.

The daily walks are proving popular with the vultures, who hop along next to their keepers, though they have attracted some strange looks from visitors.

The keepers just use the birds' favourite meaty snacks to keep them to "heel", but the pair occasionally take off to fly a quick circuit of the zoo - as they would do in the wild, circling the skies in search of food.

Zookeeper Grant Kother said: "We've had a few strange looks from visitors when we're out on the walks with the vultures - with their comical hopping gait, and huge 1.9m (4.9ft) wing span, they're hard to miss.

"The walks are really beneficial for these incredibly intelligent birds - not only are they forming a great bond with each other, but Jaffar loves getting attention from his keepers and is really enjoying his new training here at ZSL London Zoo."

He added: "Vultures are in global decline, particularly in Asia and Nepal, due to ingesting a medicine given to the cows which they eat, and Guido and Jaffar's role in the Deadly Birds demonstration is to help our visitors better understand why these amazing birds need our protection and what ZSL is doing to save them."

Press Association

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