Texas Zoo holds international Vulture awareness day event

Today is International Vulture Awareness Day, and the Texas Zoo held an event to educate the public about the animals they call “nature’s janitors.”

Newscenter 25’s David Gibson attended the event and told us all about it.

The Texas Zoo is working to educate local community members about the vulture, a bird that is rarely held in high regard. “This is an event to spread awareness about vultures found in Africa and all over the world, that are endangered,” said Katie Boughal, the Director of Conservation Education. She told us that there are 16 species of vultures that are either endangered or threatened.
Boughal explained that, “In Africa, everyday, vultures are actually poisoned intentionally. Poachers will poison carcasses to kill of mass amounts of vultures so it’s easier for them to poach animals without alerting authorities. Also, they get into the trash and end up eating plastics so they are actually killed very slowly by eating the trash.” She also told us that vultures are known for their negative stereotype and adds that, “We were hoping that guests would be able to see vultures in a little bit of a different light. A lot of times people associate vultures with death and decay, and just rotting meat, but they are actually really important,” said Boughal. Vultures are important because they act as “nature’s janitors,” cleaning up the messes no one else wants to.
Boughal continued saying, “They help with all of the carcasses that nobody is really able to take care of. They’ve got super strong stomach acid that helps them to do that, and so they help stop the spread of disease.” Some of the activities they had set up showed how strong vultures’ stomach acid is, as well as an exhibit that showed the negative effects of plastic in vultures’ stomach from eating trash.
They also had a station that simulated how vultures run, which was both a fun and exhausting activity. The Texas Zoo is going to donate a portion of their proceeds to help endangered vultures.
“A portion of proceeds made today will actually go back to helping vultures in Africa through the Denver zoo,” Boughal told us excitedly. The Texas Zoo is about 75 percent recovered from Harvey and they look to be finished within the next couple of months. After renovations are completed, the zoo plans to have a Grand Re-Opening where local community members can come and see all of the new additions and expansions made in both animals and exhibits.
Boughal told us, “We know it’s been tough for all of Victoria and all of the southwest region of Texas, but we are Texas tough, and the past year has been a rebirth of the Texas Zoo. We are hoping to make 2019 an even better start!”