A critically endangered vulture species, Ruppell’s vulture is raising its chick in Nyíregyháza for the first time in the country.
The breeding pair came to Sóstó Zoo 20 years ago. For a long time, they did not show any interest in each other, but this January they made a nest. The chick who hatched from the only one egg after 55 days is already 7 weeks old. The parents defend their offspring so desperately that it was better not to approach them up to now.
The species is called champions of the sky because besides the usual flying altitude at 6000 meters, they were detected even at 11000 meters.
This ability is based on the special type of haemoglobin in their blood which bonds to oxygen more strongly and so ensures the necessary amount of oxygen even at low atmospheric pressure.
The magnificent animals having a wingspan of 220-240 centimetres belong to the group of middle size vultures.
Living in the tropical region of Africa, these birds feed exclusively on larger animals’ carcasses and so their everyday life depends on the migrating route of hoofed animals. They can forage for food even in a distance of 150 kilometres during one day.
Their skill to find carcasses and to gather in huge numbers in a short time was the base of the assumption that vultures have an extremely good sense of smell. In some cultures, they were endowed with telepathic power. In fact, Old World vultures use their eyesight to find food. If one spots a carrion, it starts to circulate above it and flies lower and lower what the others will notice and follow. When flocked in huge numbers, they can clean a large animal’s carcass in twenty minutes by eating first the pluck, than the meat, skin and finally the smaller bones.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) listed the species as threatened for the first time in 2007. Between 2012-2014, it was categorized as endangered. Since their population is constantly declining due to habitat loss, illegal trade and deaths caused by poisoned food, they have been listed as critically endangered since 2015.
Crested porcupine baby was born in Sóstó Zoo
The number of the group increased to 5 with the baby
The most conspicuous characteristic of this animal living in Africa and Southern-Europe is the mass of black and white spins, called quills, covering the back and upper side of the body. These modified hairs are very effective if the animal is attacked. Feeling threatened, the porcupine will erect the quills and rattles them loudly. If the danger does not cease, it will charge backward into its offender. When the large, sometimes even 54 centimetres long quills will be stuck in the enemy they will separate from the porcupine’s skin.
The four matured porcupines and the baby who live in the park are nocturnal animals. They forage for food alone but like to have company as well resting always together during the daytime.
The small porcupette of Sóstó Zoo was born after 105 days of pregnancy with hairy coat. Its quills were very soft, hardening during the next few hours. The mother nurses its baby from her nipples which are rather at the side of her body so the infant would not be hurt by the quills. After a few weeks, the young eats solid food also which are tubes, roots, fruits and bugs but in addition will be breastfed for more weeks.
Pictures of the baby porcupine can be seen on the park’s facebook site.
Rare antelope was born in the enclosure of the African exhibit of Sóstó Zoo. The small calf was born yesterday and a few hours later it was already standing on its own legs.
The gemsbok (Oryx gazella) breeding pair living in the park since 2009 is really successful in reproduction since a calf was already born in 2013. Now a healthy offspring was born again after 8,5 months of pregnancy. For today, 4 gemsboks are living in the Tarzan trail of Sóstó Zoo which is the only zoo in Hungary exhibiting this rare animal species.
The gemsbok is native to South-Africa and it is the largest among Oryx species. The bull’s weight can be even 240 kilograms. Their main characteristic is the black marking on their white face. This is becoming more and more apparent for the small calf also who will have the same design as the adults for the age of 6 months. At present, its fur is yet in sand colour which helps camouflage. In its first few weeks, the calf is hidden and cared for very attentively by its mother who nurses it every day.
Gemsboks live in migrating herds on huge grassland areas. They feed on grasses, shrubs and forbs but are fond of tubers as well.
They can find the smallest water source by smell, dig juicy roots from the soil or forage for soil water in dry riverbeds. Since their food has a low nutrient value, they have to graze whole day. Horns of the male are thicker but shorter than of the females. Male’s horns are 100 centimetres long while of the females can be even 120 centimetres. The mothers use their horn to protect their calves while the bulls use them for fight with each other.
Their survival is threatened because their magnificent horns and coat which are desired by trophy hunters.