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Male Kent vulture called Harold stuns staff by laying egg

A vulture called Harold left staff at his bird sanctuary ‘flabbergasted’ when she laid an egg – after 20 years of them thinking she was male.

Staff at Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation in Eynsford, Kent couldn’t believe it when they found the griffon vulture had laid an egg in its enclosure yesterday.

When the animal experts first got him 20 years ago, the paperwork said she was male.

Staff at Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation in Eynsford, Kent couldn’t believe it when they found the griffon vulture called Harold (pictured) had laid an egg in its enclosure yesterday

But writing on Facebook, bosses said: ‘Today Eagle Heights staff are FLABBERGASTED!!! 

’20 years ago we bought Harold our male Griffon Vulture only to find this morning that he is actually a SHE and has laid her 1st ever egg!!!

‘We will now be searching for a husband for her so watch this space.’ 

After Facebook users pressed the spokesman on why staff never thought to check Harold’s gender, he said they ‘took the word of the seller’.

He said: ’20 odd years ago when we got Harold he had paper work telling us he was a male.

‘So we took their word for it, as sexing a bird can be rather stressful, as you have to take blood or pull out a blood feather and get a DNA test done.

‘Males and females look exactly the same, so unless you DNA there is no way of telling, especially in vultures.

‘Sometimes with eagles you can make a guess regarding their size as to whether they are male or female, but vultures are not that easy.’

He added: ‘In the wild they start to breed as soon as they reach maturity because their survival rate is so low, so they start as soon as possible in an attempt to increase population.

‘In captivity it’s a bit older at around 10 years old on average. 

‘So Harold is still a bit older, but up until recently she has been tethered in our main mews which obviously is not suitable for nesting.

‘Now she’s been given a big aviary she clearly thought the time was right!’

The spokesman said that staff will continue to call her Harold, despite the revelation, and that the egg is unlikely to hatch into a chick. 

He said: ‘The egg is not fertile because there has been no male involved. Just like poultry, birds of prey can lay eggs without a male.

‘We’ve had her for so long… It will always be a habit to call her Harold, so it may just stay as her name!’

Locals on social media were not wholly convinced.

Keian Gillett wrote: ‘Erm…as great as this is, should nobody have noticed that he is a she?

‘Do you guys not have experienced bird specialists and vets to check that sort of thing?

‘I think knowing the sex of the animals would be quite important. Not being negative but this is astonishing to me. But congratulations on the egg, that is fantastic.’

David Gooden said: ‘That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long time, bless he/she?

‘Maybe that explains why he can’t fly properly??, he’s a female driver after all ?’

Richard ‘Dickie’ Hall posted: ‘Erm…husband? Immaculate conception? Who’s the daddy? Soooo many questions!?’


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