Anahita in Prague! (really, this time!)

Director´s view

Miroslav Bobek  |  29. 01. 2022

On Saturday, January 22nd, an Egyptian vulture flew in to Prague Zoo. From Lebanon, by plane.

Anahita, the Egyptian vulture, pictured at the Lebanese rescue station. Photo: Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon Anahita, the Egyptian vulture, pictured at the Lebanese rescue station. Photo: Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon

Anahita is a year and a half old. The name is from the Zoroastrian and Persian goddess of fertility; however, it is not known whether it is a female or a male, and its sex will be determined here in Prague.

Anahita hatched in the spring of 2020 in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains and after leaving the nest on September 10th, headed for Africa. On the sixth day of the journey, however, the satellite transmitter that he/she had been tagged with went silent. This was about 25 kilometres southeast of Beirut. It was bad news, but not surprising. According to a recent estimate by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), this Mediterranean country manages to kill 2.6 million birds each year during their migration. So, the SPNL staff, accompanied by members of the security forces, immediately set off in search of the transmitter.

Luckily, they soon found Anahita: severely wounded having been peppered with 12 to 13 pellets from a shotgun.

Despite this, the people from the SPNL managed to save Anahita. However, it was obvious that it would require long-term treatment and there was no way he/she could be returned to the wild. Therefore, the Bulgarian conservationists sought to bring him/her back to Bulgaria, so that, hopefully, one day he/she could join the breeding program. However, due to a whole host of bureaucratic hurdles, this was not to be. They therefore decided to ask our zoo for help; after all, we are much better equipped for such matters. Even so, the entire process took four months. In fact, just listing all the necessary documents would take about a third of the space in such a weighty tome as Zoopisník.

At long last Anahita is finally at our zoo. Hopefully he/she will recover, and perhaps his/her offspring will one day return to the wild.

By the way: the name of the goddess Anahita has already appeared in connection with Prague. In 2005, a great archaeological discovery was heralded. A statue of her was found close to Prague and was claimed to be important evidence of long-distance cultural and commercial contacts on the northern border of the Roman Empire during the Migration Period. However, it soon turned out to be a modern artefact, probably a not very successful copy of the statue of the Dreaming Nun manufacture by the Ditmar-Urbach porcelain works.

But this time – this time Prague has a real Anahita!