Great start of the year at La Garenne Zoo

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The captive bearded vulture pair at Zoo La Garenne (Switzerland) – one of the 30+ zoos and animals parks in the bearded vulture European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), gave us all a great New Year gift – an egg, laid on the first day of the year!

In the short film below you can see the happy pair tending their egg and nest. The pair is being watched around the clock by a hidden camera. The bearded vulture pair in La Garenne is one of the oldest in the EEP – the male is a respectable 45 years old! In 1995 the original female died, and was replaced by another one coming from Tierpark Friedrichsfelde (Germany). It started to lay in 1998, and produced 10 young, some of which have been reintroduced into the wild in our in-situ projects. The last successful breeding occurred in 2010 – let´s hope they can raise a young this year!

The bearded vulture breeding season in in full swing now, both in nature in in the zoos – Bearded vultures are one of the earliest breeders in Europe,  their timing perfectly adapted to have chicks in early spring, when many of the mountain herbivores on which they feed (when they die) have their first births – and birth complications! The snow and cold of their mountain realms does not deter them, and so they incubate through the cold winter months.

In the EEP, we have 13 pairs incubating (18 eggs in total). The Vulture Conservation Foundation is the coordinator of the bearded vulture EEP. This collaborative network of over 30 zoos, wildlife parks, specialized breeding centers and private collections is at the base of the ongoing reintroduction projects in the Alps, Cazorla (Southern Spain) and Cevennes (Central France). In the Alps the species is staging a remarkable comeback, with 30 established territories 100 years after it went extinct there.

We congratulate and thank all the staff at La Garenne – Well done!

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