A same-sex vulture couple has delighted staff at a Dutch zoo by successfully hatching a baby chick from an abandoned egg. The pair of male griffon vultures at the Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo in Amsterdam have been described as really good parents to their little youngster since it hatched.
The heartwarming story began when the same-sex couple, who had been together for years and were considered to be a really strong couple, began mating and building a nest back in January. Staff at the zoo thought it was a shame that they couldn’t become parents as only female vultures produce eggs. Then they found a fertile egg lying on the floor of the aviary that was likely to have been produced by a female who had not yet bonded with a partner.
The zoo staff decided to chance putting the egg into the male couple’s nest to see if they could hatch it, rather than placing it in an incubator. They were understandably nervous as they were unsure if the vultures would know what to do, but were thrilled when the two boys began taking turns to sit on the egg to keep it warm. There was unbridled joy when the chick successfully hatched in May, and staff say that the two parents are doing a fine job of raising the baby.
The doting dads are taking great care of the youngster. They eat carcasses of animals like rabbits, guinea pigs or rats and then feed the chick regurgitated food, and have split their parenting duties evenly between foraging for food and defending the nest.
Griffon vultures lay only one egg per year, and male/female couples tend to stay together all their lives. The zoo says that while it is not unusual for animals, particularly birds, to form same-sex couples, this is the first time such a pair has hatched an egg at the zoo.
Another pair of male/female vultures at the zoo hatched a chick two weeks earlier, and staff are investigating the possibility of ultimately releasing the two chicks into the wild when they can fend for themselves. The birth of the chicks is good for the European breeding programme of the griffon vulture.