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Thanks to a unique collaboration between four zoos, ten critically endangered Rüppell's vultures have hatched. As a result, young vultures can now be seen in Diergaarde Blijdorp, Vogelpark Avifauna, Beekse Bergen, and DierenPark Amersfoort. Never before have so many chicks been born in Dutch zoos - a first! Diergaarde Blijdorp coordinates the population management program for this critically endangered species.

New additions to the vulture population are essential since they are severely threatened in the wild. Hence, it's crucial for zoos to build a backup stock of endangered species.

Increased offspring through a swapping trick and collaboration.

To achieve this wonderful result, a natural phenomenon was used. Vultures typically lay one egg per season, but if it gets lost, they often lay a second one. Therefore, caregivers in Blijdorp remove the first egg to hatch it in the incubator, prompting the parents to lay a second egg. This increases the chances of having more chicks of this endangered species. Blijdorp has gained much experience in this over the past years. Avifauna also applied this method and sent the eggs to Blijdorp's incubator.

Once the chick hatches, it is hand-fed for a few days to make sure it is fit and strong. It then returns to its parents and is swapped with the second egg, which is then taken to the incubator. When the second egg hatches, suitable foster parents are sought for the chick. The foster chick is typically raised as their own. The collaboration between the zoos means more eggs can be hatched and more foster parents are available. Blijdorp and Avifauna already found common ground last year. The collaboration has now expanded to include Beekse Bergen and DierenPark Amersfoort, who successfully provided a pair of griffon vultures for adoption, allowing both parks to foster a Rüppell's vulture chick.

A vulture born in Blijdorp last year escaped a few weeks ago due to storm damage to the net. Being in good condition and a good flyer, it proved challenging to catch. It has now been captured in Thuringia, near Leipzig.

Breeding records

Diergaarde Blijdorp coordinates the population management program for Rüppell's vultures, and Avifauna maintains the European studbook for white-headed vultures. The coordinator of this program determines, with a committee of experts, which animals can breed and need to be exchanged. They also decide which zoo the youngsters should go to when they are grown. Computer software has been developed to analyze the genetics of the population. Additionally, the experts determine long-term policies.


Vultures are severely threatened in the wild, and their reproduction in zoos is challenging for many species. In Africa, particularly the poaching of rhinos and elephants, leads to an increase in vulture deaths. Poachers poison carcasses to kill vultures that might otherwise reveal their illegal activities. They circle above the carrion, making it easy for rangers to locate poachers. Vultures are also severely endangered in Asia.