Raptor Aviary

  • In this aviary, there are several species of raptors, or birds of prey: among them, Griffon vulture, nnake eagle, common buzzard, black kite, golden eagle, Bonelli’s eagle, white-tailed eagle, and Egyptian vulture. Birds of prey are of great importance in maintaining biological equilibrium. They feed on weak, sick, and old animals. This is how they ensure the existence of young and healthy populations. Raptors are the main enemies of field pests: rodents, songbirds, partridges, and others. The species that feed on carcasses serve a sanitation role. Despite their many benefits, it seems that no other group of birds suffers and is harmed as birds of prey are by modern civilization. They are hunted for sport or because of their harm to agricultural livestock. High voltage lines cause death from electric shocks, and since the 1950’s, they have been facing the worst danger of all: indirect poisoning from pesticides used in agriculture. Of the 31 species of raptor populations that were once stable in Israel, either summering or wintering here, 23 species have been severely affected.
  • Rescuing birds of prey is one of the top tasks of nature conservation organizations around the world. In Israel, birds of prey are considered protected species, and much effort is made to preserve them: in some areas, feeding stations have been established, providing carcasses from slaughterhouses. For some of the birds, breeding groups have been established. For birds of prey that are still being poisoned or injured, a special hospital has been established. The Israel Electric Corporation has begun protecting high-voltage power lines to protect birds of prey from being electrocuted. Advocacy and enforcement actions are carried out to prevent the use of dangerous toxins as pesticides.
  • The future depends on us. Increased awareness of the needs of these great birds may prevent the situation where our children are acquainted with vultures, eagles, the lesser kestrel, and other birds of prey just from reading books. At the Biblical Zoo, as well as in other institutions in Israel, tremendous efforts are being made to help save the birds of prey.
  • The Griffon vulture is the flagship species of the exhibit. It is the largest raptor in Israel, with a wingspan of 280 cm! This vulture feeds only on carcasses and has a body structure well-suited for this: a large, strong, and sharp beak, which can tear an opening in carcass skin. Its neck is long and smooth, which enables it to dig into the carcass without getting too dirty. The wings are long and wide and suited for soaring for distances of tens of kilometers.
  • In the past, the Griffon vulture was a very common bird in the Galilee, Golan, Carmel, Negev, and Judean desert regions. But from the beginning of the 21st Century, its numbers began to decline rapidly due to poisoning and electrocution, and entire populations like the one in Carmel became extinct. The zoo is home to the National Incubation Center for Raptors in Israel, and at the exhibit, you can see the active vulture nests during breeding season.
  • The zoo is proud of its achievements in raising and releasing vulture chicks into the wild, in its treatment and release of many raptors who arrive poisoned or hurt, and of its national incubation center for raptor eggs.

Animals in the exhibition:
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