Vernon the Vulture has arrived!
The Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre in North Anston have welcomed a new addition to their ever-expanding menagerie and he is already causing quite a stir. ‘Vernon’ is a 17 year old Rüppell's Griffon Vulture, a very large and impressive bird with a wing span of approximately 8 ft. long, and will feature in the Centre’s popular Aerial Antics displays daily; along with other magnificent birds of prey and beautiful free-flying Macaws.
Heather Scott, Animal Presenter, said about Vernon, “Because of his colossal size and powerful beak, he might be considered a little intimidating at first, but visitors will soon see that there is no reason to fear him. He is a real professional in the show and his inquisitive nature makes him instantly lovable! Vernon is sure to be the new star of our bird displays."
Rüppell's Griffon Vultures are found in the wild in most parts of Central and East Africa. The Tropical Butterfly House is home to birds of prey from around the world, and Vernon now shares a large enclosure with Alfie, the Centre’s 4 year old Turkey Vulture – a species native to Central and South America. Alfie is considerably smaller than his new companion, with a wing span of around 4 ft, but the two have settled in well together.
In the wild, these birds use their large wings to soar around on the hot air thermals, using their extremely good eye sight to spot a dead animal carcass to feed on. They are very much specialised and have backward-facing spines on their tongues to more easily remove meat from the bone. The Rüppell's Griffon Vulture is considered to be the highest flying bird in the world, with a confirmed sighting at 36,100 ft. above sea level and regularly fly at altitudes of around 20,000 ft. above sea level.
Rüppell's Griffon Vultures are listed as ‘near threatened’ and the population is decreasing due to habitat loss and other threats, including culling for use of the birds’ heads in traditional medicines.
For more information about the Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre, visit www.butterflyhouse.co.uk.
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