The bearded vulture captive breeding network (organised under an EEP program under EAZA – European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) is a fantastic collaborative effort between many people and organisations – and is at the base of the successful reintroduction projects that are restoring the populations of this species across its former range. The VCF coordinates the whole process, providing technical support, transporting birds across the network, trying to maximise the establishment of new pairs, improving the husbandry, reducing mortality, and improving breeding productivity.
During the last two years, perhaps spurred by the great success of the reintroduction projects – one of the greatest wildlife comeback stories in the world – the number of participants in the Bearded Vulture EEP has increased substantially, as well the request from new institutions to join. Due to the very good breeding success in 2015 (26 fledglings), we could definitively balance the sex ratio in the captive breeding network, and offer young pairs to new partners.
One of these new partners is Nikolaev zoo, which this summer has signed a collaboration agreement with the Vulture Conservation Foundation. This agreement assures that all our partners accept, respect and follow the guidelines of the EEP.
Nikolaev zoo is one of the oldest zoos in Europe – it is celebrating its 114th year! Initially a private collection, it underwent a major expansion and modernization in 1978. Nikolaev zoo is engaged in a huge number of education and conservation programs and has received several prizes. Thanks to the numerous improvements realized during the last decades, Nikolaev zoo was admitted to the European (EAZA), and participates in 28 EEP programmes. Since 2003 the zoo represents Ukrainian zoos in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
For the VCF and the EEP, the inclusion of Nikolaev Zoo – holding two founder females previously not included in the captive breeding network – is very interesting, because it does not only include these birds in a conservation programme, but we also secure the increase of the genetic variability inside the captive breeding network.
Within the agreement just signed, the EEP will offer Nikolaev zoo a young couple, while one of its females will be send to the Richard Faust Zentrum, headquarters of the Bearded Vulture EEP, to try to pair bonding with an adult male. Pair bonding with adult birds is quite risky and we had several losses in the past. That is why the guidelines of the BV EEP recommend realizing pair bonding of adult birds at the specialized breeding centers.
The Bearded Vulture EEP and the VCF we would like to welcome Nikolaev zoo and whish a long and strength collaboration with this international conservation program.