Rod, an Egyptian Vulture, has passed away at Jurong Bird Park at nearly 60 years old

Rod had lived almost three times the natural lifespan of Egyptian Vultures in the wild.

Belmont Lay | August 25, 2022, 06:35 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

Rod, the Egyptian Vulture at Jurong Bird Park, has passed away.

It was nearly 60 years old.

Mandai Wildlife Reserve announced its passing in a Facebook post on Aug. 25, 2022.

Pioneer generation of birds

Rod was the pioneer generation of birds at the park, and already an adult when the park opened in 1971 -- he would have been close to 10 years old at that time.

This made him the park's oldest bird, and possibly, the world’s oldest of his species, MWR said.

At nearly six decades old, Rod had lived almost three times the natural lifespan of Egyptian Vultures in the wild.

"Rod was loved and lived a full life at Jurong Bird Park where he, in his younger days, played an integral role in raising awareness of threats faced by his wild counterparts. Up until recently, he remained spritely for his age," MWR said.

Age-related health issues in recent years

Being a geriatric bird, Rod had age-related health issues.

He was placed under the Senior Animal Care Programme from 2018.

The programme saw Rod undergo frequent health checks, a customised diet and feeding, and modified environment to ensure he continued to have a good quality of life.

At his last assessment by his carers and the vets, Rod’s age-related complications had advanced, severely affecting his quality of life, MWR revealed.

He had to be put down eventually.

MWR wrote: "On welfare grounds, the difficult decision was therefore made to humanely euthanise him."

Calm and cool personality

Clarence Saw, a trainer for birds of prey at the Jurong Bird Park, has known Rod since 1988.

He said, recounting the bird's intelligence:

“Rod was a special bird. He was the bird I got to work with the longest, and he was instrumental in honing my bird handling skills in the early years of my career as a 28-year-old. His calm and cool personality made him easy to work with – he would never try to peck or harm anyone. From 1991 to 2011, Rod was part of Kings of the Skies. His routine during the presentation was to demonstrate the species’ unique behaviour of breaking the tough shell of ostrich eggs in the wild. He would pick up rocks and throw them at a hollowed-out ostrich egg. Rod was so persistent that he would keep doing it as long as there were rocks around. We had to keep the rocks so he would stop. After a few attempts, we would make a switch to a chicken egg, which he would crack by lifting it up in his beak and smashing it on the ground to eat the contents. Rod showed me how truly intelligent and full of personality birds can be. The bird park will not be the same without him and he will be sorely missed.”

All photos via Mandai Wildlife Reserve