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Toledo Zoo welcomes new cinereous vulture chick

We're no strangers to vultures here in northwest Ohio. But the species at the zoo is a bit different from the more common turkey vultures.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo Zoo's cinereous vulture pair has a new chick to care for

"He's already twice the size he was when we introduced him to the parents," said Monica Blackwell, curator of birds for the Toledo Zoo.

We're no strangers to vultures in northwest Ohio, but the species at the zoo is a bit different from the more common turkey vultures. The cinereous vulture can weigh close to 20 pounds with a wing span larger than that of a bald eagle.

That size, along with a tendency to be aggressive, can put their eggs in danger.

"It's become a standard practice to remove the real egg to an incubator, but they're sitting on a dummy egg, thinking it's the real one all along," Blackwell said.

The goal isn't to trick the parents, but to protect the chick. And this new baby deserves protection.

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The Toledo Zoo got the chick from a zoo in South Carolina. Their vultures had two eggs, but the vultures only care for one. So instead of zoo staff caring for the second chick, the Toledo Zoo decided Eddie and Alice were ready to be parents again.

"Eddie is doing a fantastic job providing all the care the chick needs," Blackwell said.

In the wild, it's common for one parent to take on the majority of the parenting duties. In this case, Eddie is serving as protector and incubator.

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The chick won't be ready to leave the nest until it's about four months old and the fact that it's here at all is rare, especially this year.

"With the bird flu, lots of zoos pulled birds in during nesting season time," Blackwell said.

The new chick, along with Alice and Eddie, aren't the only vultures you can see at the zoo. There are also three older, but still juvenile birds.

Those juveniles will soon have a new spot to explore as zoo staff put the finishing touches on a new exhibit. It's all in the hope that visitors will come away with a new appreciation for the animals.

"By looks alone, it's easy to paint them as a bad animal, but in general they just want to eat and be left alone," Blackwell said.

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