Visitors to London Zoo have encountered a strange sight recently, that of two black vultures being taken for a daily stroll by the zookeepers around the 36-acre site.
Black vultures Guido and Jaffar are being taken for walks in order to encourage the newly-paired males to establish a firm friendship.
10-year-old Jaffar will be making a star appearance alongside nine-year-old Guido in the Zoo's popular 'Deadly Birds' demonstration when it returns this spring, and keepers want to make sure the duo get to know one another first.
The new routine is proving to be popular with the extremely friendly vultures, but has earned the keepers a few open-mouthed stares from visitors who seem unsure what to make of the unlikely group.
Zookeeper Grant Kother said, "We've had a few strange looks from visitors when we're out on the walks with the vultures – with their comical hopping gait, and huge 1.9 metre wing span, they're hard to miss.
"The walks are really beneficial for these incredibly intelligent birds, not only are they forming a great bond with each other, but Jaffar loves getting attention from his keepers and is really enjoying his new training here at ZSL London Zoo," he added.
Referred to as nature's bin-men, vultures play a vital role in keeping their wild habitats clean and free of disease by feasting almost exclusively on carrion – the carcasses of dead animals. While they have no hope of finding any carrion in the Zoo, they are rewarded upon their return to their keepers with titbits of quail and mice.
Video courtesy of the ZSL London Zoo