The newest Princess in Utica is being called quite the vulture but, believe it or not, that is not a bad thing.

Andria Heath, Executive Director of the Utica Zoo, says "Princess" is indeed the star of their new Ruppell's Griffon Vulture exhibit.

The acquisition of Princess was made possible through a $190,000 donation from Dr. Ken Murphy and his daughter Sarah.  Murphy has donated to the zoo before, and is the namesake of one of three lions born at the zoo, Murphy, who - along with sister Coky, is now two years old.

With a wingspan of just about six feet, the bird, which came to the zoo after being rescued, can be quite powerful.

Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

But she can also be quite the ham.  When spending camera time with this WIBX newsie she proved to be quite curious as well.  First she presented her impressive wings, and then sauntered closer to examine us.  You can catch a peek of Her Royal Highness by watching the video:

Heath says you usually think of vultures as being a bit less than glamorous, feasting on scraps of carrion from the side of the road or flying in a circling pattern just below the clouds. Princess is, however, a beautiful bird and will undoubtedly help the zoo better reach those with whom a close encounter with a vulture is a rare thing.

The area in which Princess is housed was a bear enclosure, which has been re-purposed "in an effort to steer the Zoo towards modern animal practices."

Dr. Murphy says the opportunity to give back to the Zoo is personally rewarding.  "For me personally, it’s very exciting to see the growth over the last couple years. It has been very impressive, with the staff and the board all very committed to continuing to grow the Zoo in a very thoughtful manner."


Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino