About 15 griffon vulture eggs will hatch this year at the National Center for Artificial Incubation of Raptor Eggs, located at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

Griffon vultures, once very common in Israel from the Golan and Galilee in the north to the Judean Hills and Negev Desert in the south, are now on the verge of extinction due to mostly human factors.

A vulture is released into the wild in the Judean Desert. Photo by Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90
Nests built by the remaining 40 or 50 pairs are closely monitored, and because parent birds often mysteriously vanish after the eggs are laid, the zoo has been incubating rescued eggs for the past five years, along with others sent by zoos in other countries

The chicks are either sent to foster vulture parents or fed using a special stuffed vulture device so they don’t get used to human caretakers before getting released back into the wild.