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Zoo Atlanta has a big cause for celebration!
After more than eight years of trying to get lappet-faced vultures Anubis, 16, and Amana, 18, to produce fertile offspring, they are now parents.
The zoo announced in a press release that it is their first chick of the endangered species. The hatchling marks the zoo’s first lappet-faced chick after Anubis and Amana produced 12 eggs in the past decade that were infertile.
Anubis and Amana were chosen to breed together by recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Lappet-faced Vulture Species Survival Plan (SSP).
“The birth of an endangered species is always an occasion for celebration, but this hatching represents a particular success for Zoo Atlanta,” Jennifer Mickelberg, Ph.D., the vice president of collections and conservation at the Georgia zoo, said in a statement.
Mickelberg added, “We are always thrilled to see first-time animal parents succeed. This is also a testament to the enormous commitment of our Bird Team, who have worked over a period of many years to provide opportunities and innovations to help this pair flourish.”
Zoo Atlanta officials helped the new parents bond by assisting with their nest-building. The zoo gave the vulture couple all the materials they needed in a safe and secure spot within the duo’s indoor area. This past mating season, the animals produced two infertile eggs, and their third and final attempt resulted in success.
To ensure that the lappet-faced chick had the best chance of survival, the zoo incubated the chick’s egg and gave the parents a “dummy” egg, officials said.
The history-making chick hatched 54 days later after incubation and was born of April 24. The newborn was slowly reintroduced to its parents, Amana and Anubis, over a period of ten days and remains in great health.
Lappet-faced vultures are classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The African vulture species have declined in population “by more than 80% in just the past three decades,” according to Zoo Atlanta, who is a member of the AZA’s African Vulture Saving Animals from Extinction Program.
The bird is threatened by poisoning, agriculture, pollution, and hunting, per the Atlanta Zoo and IUCN.