A pair of gay vultures at a zoo in Amsterdam recently welcomed a baby chick, marking a momentous milestone for the couple that had been trying to start a family for several months.
The story of how the baby chick came into the world is much more incredible.
The two vultures have been living in the zoo since 2010 and have been in a long relationship for years. They build a nest together, bond and mate together. But the only thing they could not do was produce an egg.
Their caretakers thought it was a pity because the two male birds appeared to be a really strong couple. That's why they lunged at the opportunity to help them.
About two months ago, they found a neglected, fertile egg lying on the floor. The egg was unclaimed by a female vulture that had not yet bonded with a partner.
The zookeepers put the abandoned egg in the male couple's nest. "We climbed up the rock to take a little peek and see what happened. Then we saw this little chick moving under these brave guys, and that was an unbelievable sight," one of the zookeepers, van Tol said.
To the surprise of the zookeepers, the two male couple took turns in sitting on the egg to keep it warm until it hatched.
In May, one of the zookeepers climbed up to the nest and was totally stunned when he saw a little moving baby chick. He signaled for another zookeeper to come and watch the young family. “It was a special moment. We fell into each other’s arms, which we never do. This we just couldn’t believe.”
Now the baby chick is 20 days old and it’s growing like crazy.
So, how did the male couple divide up the baby duties? The zookeepers said one of them stayed in the nest to keep the egg warm and defended the nest. The other went out to find food for the 20-day-old chick.
"Homosexual relationships within the animal kingdom are very widespread." van Tol said. There are 1,500 species of animals known to form same-sex couples, but a same-sex bird couple parenting a baby together is a first for the Amsterdam zoo.
In April 2016, there was news of another gay vultures couple caring for an abandoned egg at a zoo in Germany. Unfortunately, the egg never hatched.
"They sat on it in the nest, but it was not fertile," Dr. Heike Weber, zoo curator and veterinarian said.
When the zookeepers finally intervened, the couple became aggressive. "They were attached to it, absolutely," said Dr. Weber.
"There's no guarantee of what the future holds, but Griffon vultures are monogamous animals and tend to stay in couples for years."
We wish this vulture family many happy years ahead. And Happy upcoming Father’s Day from the animal kingdom!