Gay birds of a feather parent together at Israeli zoo
Dashik and Yahuda, two male vultures, have raised two
|CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports on a surprising development in a program to reintroduce vultures to the wild in Israel.
September 18, 1999
Web posted at: 7:24 p.m. EDT (2324 GMT)
From Correspondent Jerrold Kessel
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Zoo keepers involved in an ambitious
breeding program for endangered Griffin vultures are getting
a helping hand from a vulture couple that, ironically,
Keepers noticed that Dashik and Yahuda, two male vultures at
Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, had built a nest together and were
mating. So they decided to give the couple an artificial egg
to see what would happen.
"They were sitting incubating perfectly," said the zoo's head
keeper, Itzik Yadid. "If they are incubating so good, sharing
between the two of them, the next step will be obviously to
give them a chick to raise."
So far, Dashik and Yahuda have raised two baby birds, Diva
and Adi Gordon, with results that exceeded expectations
"We're very proud of them. We think they've done a marvelous
job," said bird keeper Sharon Sterling. "They've behaved
extremely well, the best parents we've ever seen."
Keepers had initially thought about separating Dashik and
Yahuda and trying to bring in a female to create a
heterosexual vulture couple.
Dashik and Yahuda were given a chick to raise after they
were given an artificial egg to incubate
"And then we said, 'Why should we do it? If they are
together, if they are raising a chick together, why should we
separate them?'" Yadid said. "So we decided to let them stay
together and keep raising chicks together."
There is a reason beyond mere curiosity for seeking parenting
help from the gay vultures. Normally, female Griffin vultures
lay only one egg a year. But if the egg is taken from the
mother, she will lay a second egg, a process known as "double
So by providing suitable surrogate parents for the eggs that
are taken, bird keepers can increase the number of vultures
that are bred.
Griffin vultures, once a common sight in the Mideast, have
nearly disappeared. The zoo is trying to reintroduce them
through the breeding program.
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