Until I began working at a zoo I had no idea how very crucial vultures are to entire eco-systems, but more importantly how important they are to each and every one of us.
Vultures get a bad reputation because they eat dead things, and not only do they eat them, they generally make their entrance into a body through the anus. Given these two rather descriptive and revolting facts they aren’t generally considered animals to be given a high profile in zoos and wildlife centers. However, talk to the people who care for them and you soon discover that these birds are quite remarkable.
Vultures are nature’s waste management system; they take away what everyone else leaves behind. But beyond that their stomachs can digest things such as anthrax, botulism, rabies, and cholera. By eating carcasses they prevent these diseases spreading to humans via the rats, cats, and dogs that might otherwise consume these dead animals and spread the diseases to humans. Remarkable doesn’t begin to describe them.
They’re dedicated parents, some equally dedicated to each other in their monogamy, they can live half a century, and have a remarkable intelligence.