Animal Park Goldau
Bearded Vulture Aviary

Dr. Martina Schybli (Author for Wildlife Park Goldau)
Jonas Homburg (Editor and translator for ZooLex)
Monika Fiby (Editor for ZooLex)

Published 18 Dec 2018



Tierpark Goldau Parkstraße 26 6410 Goldau Switzerland
Phone: 0041 41 8590606
URL: http://www.tierpark.ch


Conservation breeding, reintroduction


Family:Species:Common Name:Capacity:
Phasianidae Alectoris graeca Rock partridge 1.1.10
Accipitridae Gypaetus barbatus Bearded vulture 1.1.1
Leporidae Lepus timidus Alpine hare 1.1.2


  • 2005 Ecological award of WWF Switzerland for Bearded vulture project


The exhibit aviary for bearded vultures was built in 1994/1995 and is integrated in the natural rock fall landscape of the animal park Goldau. It was renovated in 2014/2015. The area was enlarged, and the nylon netting was replaced by steel mesh. Two new visitor spaces allow the guests to enter the exhibit and observe the animals without visual barriers.

The purpose of the mixed-species aviary vultures focuses on informing visitors about bearded vultures and their habitat. The aviary is home to a breeding pair of bearded vultures whose offspring are integrated into the reintroduction program in the Alps. Furthermore, two other alpine species, the snow hare and the rock partridge, inhabit the enclosure. This mixed-species community shows to the visitors that bearded vultures are not active hunters, but scavengers. Keeping yellow-billed chough in the aviary as another species of this habitat is planned for the future.

An integrated exhibition informs on breeding and reintroduction of bearded vultures in Europe. The Goldau Animal Park has made a huge commitment to this project through its own additional breeding station.



The bearded vulture aviary covers about 720m² and is up to 7m high. It has a volume of approximately 5,200m³. The two visitor viewing spaces (72m²) can also be used by the animals. The exhibition pavilion is 36m². The breeding station (outside the zoo property) is 560m² and has about 4,500m³ of space. It is divided into two parts, each approximately 230m², and a shift area of 100m². The aviary borders a service building that is 40m².

Space allocation in square meters:

Use:Indoors:Outdoors:Total Exhibit:



The costs include the construction of the exhibit aviary with nylon netting and the furnishing of the bordering exhibition pavilion, which was already there. The construction of the breeding aviary was not included in this budget. The aviary was renovated in 2014/2015 for 1,317,000 CHF. These costs include new statics, concrete foundations, pillars, steel mesh and two new visitor viewing spaces.

CHF 950,000 including 20% for design.



20 May 2015


Beginning: 1 March 2013

  • Planning: Kaufmann AG, Goldau
  • Engineer: Pfeifer Ingenieure GmbH, Konstanz


Beginning: 26 May 2014


walter.gif This is a climatic diagram for the closest weather station.



The plant choice was guided by the alpine flora of the Alps.

The plant list specifies the Latin names of the plants used for this exhibit.


The enclosure is integrated into the natural rockfall landscape. The back area is composed of a large cliff wall with two niches serving as nesting sites. The vultures can soar up to 50 meters off from several elevated starting points in the aviary.

Fresh water is provided by an artificial creek. A flat rock is used as a feeding place for the vultures. A puddle with ferrous oxide-rich mud is available for plumage staining.

Native shrubs, overhanging rocks and spruce branches provide hiding places and shadow for the snow hares and the partridges.



As most of the young vultures take part in the reintroduction programs, contact to the birds is reduced to the necessary minimum. During the breeding season, a camera records activities in the nest.

Two storage rooms are available in the building. A gate allows vehicle access to the aviary. A large easy-to-clean stone serves as the feeding station for the vultures.



The renovated exhibit has two visitor spaces allowing the visitors to enter the exhibit. The slope, vegetation, and the running stream all add to the alpine character of the exhibit.

In front of the information pavilion, there is a bronze sculpture that is often used as a photo opportunity.

The recordings of the nest camera can be viewed online during the rearing period. Visitors can observe the fledgling on a monitor in the exhibition room.



Graphics, videos, and artefacts (eggs, feathers, bones etc.) in the exhibition inform visitors about the natural history of bearded vultures, their range, causes of their endangerment, efforts taken to protect them, and the reintroduction project.

The bearded vultures are regularly part of the guided tours for environmental education at the park.



The combination of having an exhibit and a breeding aviary offers flexibility in forming breeding pairs.

The food composition corresponds to the food in the wild with seasonal changes being respected. Mainly meat and bones of goats and sheep are fed.

All young bearded vultures are raised exclusively by their own parents or by foster parents so that their vulture specific behaviors can completely develop.



Various tracking methods were tested on the bearded vultures in the Goldau Animal Park. A waistbelt to fix the transmitters proved to be most effective and is now used on the reintroduced animals.

The animal park took part in a study by the WSL (Confederate research institute for forests, snow and landscape) to assess the habitat use and stress levels of snow hares in the wild and in captivity.



In 1913, bearded vultures became extinct in the Alps. In 1978, the reintroduction project in the Alps was created thanks to the cooperation of 30 zoos, various national parks, the Zoological Society Frankfurt, and WWF.

After a comprehensive breeding program was established among zoos throughout all of Europe, the first bearded vultures were released in Rauris, Austria in 1986. Since then (by 2016), 212 young bearded vultures have been released in 18 regions in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and France. The vultures breed successfully in the wild. By 2016, 142 young birds have fledged since 1997.

In 1998, the Goldau Animal Park built two bearded vulture breeding aviaries in its expansion area “Grosswyer.” The two aviaries are angled perfectly to the south and contain a combined volume of approximately 5,200m³. Directly adjacent to the aviaries is a keeper area for breeding observation. The breeding station is not accessible to visitors, since bearded vultures are very sensitive to disturbances during breeding season. Since 2000 most of the young vultures hatched at animal park Goldau were released in the Alps. All vultures that are released in Switzerland are quarantined in the breeding aviaries of the park for a few days and individually marked.



Local companies were contracted for construction. The food is delivered by local butchers.



© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2014


Site Plan

Site Plan

© Pfeiffer Ingenieure, Jonas Homburg, 2016


Picture Views

Picture Views

© Pfeiffer Ingenieure, 2014


Bearded vulture

Bearded vulture

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2004


Alpine hare

1. Alpine hare

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2014


Rock partridge

2. Rock partridge

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2015


View towards the aviary

3. View towards the aviary

© Animal Park Goldau, 2015


Mixed-species aviary

4. Mixed-species aviary

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2015


Retreat for the snow hare

5. Retreat for the snow hare

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2016


Mud bath and feeding place

6. Mud bath and feeding place

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2016


Lower visitor viewpoint

7. Lower visitor viewpoint

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2016


Upper viewpoint, vehicle acess and exhibition

8. Upper viewpoint, vehicle acess and exhibition

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2015


Information panel

9. Information panel

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2015


Bone smithy

10. Bone smithy

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2018


Egg dance

11. Egg dance

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2018


Lead poisoning

12. Lead poisoning

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2018


Bearded vulture nest

13. Bearded vulture nest

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2018


Live from the aerie

14. Live from the aerie

© Monika Fiby, 2005


Bronze wings

15. Bronze wings

© Monika Fiby, 2005


Breeding station

16. Breeding station

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2005



17. Offspring

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2005


Back to the wild

18. Back to the wild

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2005


Journey to the unknown

19. Journey to the unknown

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2005


Young bearded vulture

20. Young bearded vulture

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2015


Young bearded vulture

21. Young bearded vulture

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2005


Released bearded vulture

22. Released bearded vulture

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2006


Snow hare during summer

23. Snow hare during summer

© Wildlife Park Goldau, 2005