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One of the largest birds of prey named John Denver arrives at the Virginia Zoo

Virginia Zoo Photo 2 Vulture.jpg
Posted at 1:50 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 13:50:54-05

Norfolk, Va. – The Virginia Zoo got a new addition to their family and his name is John Denver.

He's settling into his surroundings this week so he won’t be singing to Zoo visitors quite yet.

John Denver is one of the largest and heaviest birds of prey with his massive 10-foot wingspan. He is a cinerous vulture and was flown into Washington DC (via an airplane, of course) from the Living Desert Zoo in California, then made the car-ride from DC to Norfolk.

The Virginia Zoo said, "John Denver was an egg laid at the Denver Zoo, then flown to the Living Desert Zoo before he even hatched to be raised by cinereous vulture foster parents. As an homage to the city he originally hailed from, Keepers lovingly named him John Denver. He landed at the Virginia Zoo due to a breeding recommendation from the Species Survival Plan that paired him with Eve, the Zoo’s resident female cinerous vulture."

Zoo Keepers said they observed positive key behaviors – proximity, positive interactions and eating and ever since, the pair have been seen preening each other and playing with enrichment items.

Cinereous vultures, also known as monk vultures, black vultures and Eurasian black vultures are flighted birds that can weigh up to 28 pounds and measure over three-and-a-half feet tall. Their species is listed as near threatened to extinction due to human-animal conflict such as poisoning. The species’ global population is estimated at 14,000-20,000 mature individuals, Zoo officials said.

Click here to learn more about John Denver.

The Zoo is open daily 10 a.m., to 4 p.m., advanced reservations and timed tickets are required.