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Panorama of a Safari Park field exhibit with giraffes, water buffalo, and rhinos

Ruppell’s Vulture

White rhino with calf


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Ruppell’s Vulture

Let’s face it—vultures have one of the worst reputations in the Animal Kingdom just by doing what comes naturally. Yet they are doing the world a favor by handling carrion cleanup duty. It’s a dirty job—and luckily, vultures are willing and able to do it!

The Ruppell’s vulture is the highest-flying bird. Reportedly, a jet flying over the Ivory Coast at an altitude of 35,433 feet (10,800 meters) hit one! The Ruppell's vulture gets on the wing about two hours after sunrise and spends its entire day aloft.

As it lacks a sense of smell, the Ruppell’s vulture uses its sharp eyes to find food. Its large crop can hold about 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) of food, which may be as much as 20 percent of the bird’s weight.

You can admire and thank these winged wonders during an Africa Tram tour.

Free! Living Legends - San Diego Zoo 100. Help save wildlife in our newest puzzle game.