The return of the raptors
After passing through two sets of gates, visitors find themselves on a sandy path leading through rocky terrain with abundant steppe vegetation. A waterfall splashes down the cliff while vultures circle overhead. A little later, the path enters a new habitat reminiscent of northern woodland, where owls can be admired up close. Welcome to Zoo Berlin’s new Eagle Canyon!
Over the past three years, the bird of prey habitats at Zoo Berlin have undergone extensive renovation and modernisation. In addition to the necessary refurbishment of the historic cliffs, the work involved bringing separate aviaries together to create completely new facilities. Right at the entrance to the Canyon, visitors can marvel at the majestic golden eagles that give the area its name. But the centrepiece of the new attraction is formed by two walk-through free-flight net aviaries. Each of the approximately 800 m2 aviaries is home to various vulture and owl species – such as palm-nut vultures and snowy owls. These very special habitats allow visitors to get unusually close to magnificent birds in surroundings that recall their natural environments. “With this large-scale renovation project, we were not only able to create significantly more space for our raptors,” explains Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem, “we could also adapt the vegetation and design of the aviaries to more closely reflect the natural habitats of the birds, making them more interesting for inhabitants and visitors alike.” Other aviaries have also been merged so that birds from the same geographical region now share the same space. And there is even a special viewing platform where visitors can observe vultures flying from eye level.
As well as the outside aviaries, the birds’ indoor facilities have also been modernised and enlarged, and the building’s infrastructure has been renovated. The former 65 aviaries have been merged to create 25 new habitats, and the outdoor areas now cover almost 2,000 m2. Approximately 2,400 m² of netting spanned across 18 supporting pillars was used to create the new aviaries, with construction costs totalling around €3.65 million.
A total of 37 birds from 15 different species (eight vultures, two eagles, three owls, one caracara, one raven and one hornbill) currently inhabit Eagle Canyon. The species are:
Southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)
Eurasian griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus)
Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus)
King vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)
Southern crested caracara (Caracara plancus)
Great grey owl (Strix nebulosa)
Snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca)
Palm-nut vulture (Gypohierax angolensis)
White-necked raven (Corvus albicollis)
White-headed vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)
Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
Hooded vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)
Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)
Spectacled owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata)