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Species Survival Plan plans for king vultures

Hello – I’m Luke, a keeper in the Bird Department here at Zoo Atlanta. Today I’ll be talking about the process behind transferring animals between zoological institutions, and how a Species Survival Plan®(SSP) works.

The main goal of an individual SSP is to maintain genetic diversity of a particular species within a zoological population. Managed populations are a way to help us build a sustainable future for our species. Additionally, when possible, SSPs facilitate conservation programs of many threatened species. Each SSP has a Coordinator who makes recommendations for animals to move between zoos for breeding, or sometimes for maintenance of animals in a non-breeding situation if those animals require housing so that others can be paired, or to maintain a diverse gene pool, or to house single-sex groups/individuals.

A few months ago we got a recommendation from the King Vulture SSP Coordinator to return two king vultures to Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. We had been holding these vultures for Riverbanks Zoo while their habitat was being replaced. So last week I had the opportunity to take these two birds, Lilith and Venus, down to Riverbanks.

We also received a recommendation to bring in a male king vulture from Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah. The departure of Venus and Lilith has opened up space to do so. We will pair this newcomer with our current female king vulture, Roswell. Currently the new male is going through his 30-day routine quarantine period, but look out for our beautiful new pair in the coming months, next to the cassowary habitat!
Luke Krider
Keeper III, Birds

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