A griffon hatched in captivity during the last days in Israel after its parents – a pair of Cretan griffons that had arrived in Jerusalem Zoo last January from Cyprus – started to mate when they were in quarantine.
The pair – together with a second female – originated in Crete, where the species is increasing. They were found weak, and spent some time in a Greek zoo to recover, but rather that being released back into the wild on the greek island, they were sent to Cyprus to restock the extremely small population there, as part of a restocking project (see here for information) which has already released 25 birds in Cyprus.
The problem is that these these birds were a bit too familiar to the human presence (no doubt due to their stay in the zoo), so although they made good flights after release in Cyprus, they also went near villages and roads, one entering a schoolyeard. So the Cyprus Game & Fauna Service recaptured them, and send them to Israel, to support the captive breeding project run by the Israel Nature & Parks Authority (NPA), and located at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, in an operation supported by Fondation Segré and Arkia airlines.
Sometime ago they had laid 3 eggs, and at least 2 of those are fertile – the first griffon hatched now. The Cretan birds were included in the captive breeding nucleus for reintroduction at Hai-Bar Carmel Nature Reserve, in a joint project of the NPA, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Israeli Electric Company. More than 20% of the estimated 160 griffon vultures living in Israel originated from this breeding nucleus or their offspring in the wild.