(WXYZ) — Five vultures from the Detroit Zoo now have a new home as part of an important conservation program.
The vultures were relocated to Africa in an effort to restore South Africa's vulture population.
All of the vultures were born in captivity. One lappet-faced vulture named Kassie and four hooded vultures named Mrs. Nasty, Nelly, Fiona and Zeke, will now live at VulPro, a nonprofit conservation organization based in South Africa.
VulPro is a leader in the rehabilitation and conservation of vultures and has more than 10 years in working with injured and non-releasable vultures to boost wild populations.
VulPro has released more than 40 captive-born vultures in that time.
“Nestling vultures stay with their parents at VulPro until they have successfully fledged and are able to feed on a carcass on their own. Then, they move to a large enclosure with other juveniles and wild-born rehabilitated vultures for a month,” says Kerri Wolter, founder of VulPro. “When they’re strong enough to forage and move widely, they’re released to the wild,” added Wolter.
“This is monumental as it will be the first time that African vultures are returning to their native continent from North America,” said Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carter. “We are excited to work with VulPro on this groundbreaking initiative and help to restore these endangered species. We will be sharing updates from VulPro on Kassie, Mrs. Nasty, Nelly, Fiona and Zeke, and look forward to someday showing the release of their offspring in the wild in South Africa,” said Carter.
This is the first time ever that a transfer like this has taken place, according to the zoo.
It took nearly two years to obtain permits both from the United States and South Africa due pandemic delays.
Vultures live almost entirely off of eating dead animals and play a crucial role in the world's ecosystem.
Lappet-faced vultures are classified as endangered while Hooded vultures are listed as critically endangered.