Thanks to Auckland Zoo’s new supporting partner, Metalbird, visitors can now discover white-headed vultures surveying the skies and savannah of our Africa Safari Track.

Vultures are a vital scavenger bird in the wildly diverse ecosystems of the African savannah – consuming dead and/or dying animals and recycling them into this environment as nutrients for the health of its flora and fauna.

Local New Zealand company Metalbird’s creation of five life-sized white-headed vultures (1.2m in height) - perched in various locations within our Africa track – highlights this species’ beauty and symbolises the importance of vultures in African savannah ecosystems.

“While it’s not possible for us to bring these birds into New Zealand, these very cool creations, unique to Auckland Zoo, are a brilliant way for our visitors to experience just how majestic they are, and to learn about their value,” says Auckland Zoo’s ungulates team leader, Tommy Karlsson.

“As keepers caring for many African savannah mammal species (giraffe, zebra, rhino, ostrich, nyala and more), we love that these vultures are now represented here.

“The white-headed vulture is unfortunately a Critically Endangered species (IUCN Red List) – under threat from the alteration of savannah ecosystems, and even poisoning and persecution. Their presence here at the Zoo in this super innovative way by Metalbird is a reminder that every animal species native to its environment, whether that’s in Africa or here in New Zealand, is really important and that we can all play a part in caring for the environment to help ensure its future,” says Tommy.

Metalbird CEO Serai Te Kani says working alongside Auckland Zoo to bring these vultures to life “has been a deeply enriching experience, one that emphasised the strength and insights yielded by collaboration”.

“A few years in the making, this project embodies our belief that art can play a vital role in the conservation landscape, inspiring curiosity and instigating much needed conversations about biodiversity both at home and overseas,” says Serai

“It was a privilege to ideate and connect with such knowledgeable and passionate advocates for wildlife and shine a light on a critically endangered species that has been marginalised and undervalued for far too long.”

Vultures for sale at Zoo shop will help support conservation efforts in the wild

Metalbird, which supports conservation efforts for threatened bird species locally and overseas, has created a smaller white-head vulture that is available exclusively at Auckland Zoo’s shop.

Twenty percent of proceeds from all Metalbird vultures sold will go to Auckland Zoo’s Conservation Fund, which funds the conservation of threatened wildlife and wild places - here in Aotearoa and around the world.  

You can find them in our Zoo Shop online and on-site!