Museum Minute: Suli The Turkey Vulture

Jul 2, 2020

Suli, the turkey vulture.
Credit Rae Ann Garrett

The Draper Museum Raptor Experience will be 10 years old in 2021. In honor of its anniversary, Museum Minute is featuring the 11 raptors in the program. The Raptor Experience is a live raptor education program that shares the region’s wild animals with visitors to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Suli is a turkey vulture. She has no disabilities, but she is a human imprint. Brandon Lewis, the live raptor program assistant, said that means she was raised by people and doesn’t have much knowledge of how to survive as a turkey vulture. Lewis said Suli was found in a barn between haystacks.

“The farmers there needed to move that haystack and they started moving it and then they found this little turkey vulture and didn't want to leave her there.”

So the farmers took Suli to a nearby nature center hoping that there would be an adult turkey vulture that could act as her foster parent. But there were none. So she was raised by the nature center staff.

“They took great care of her but she never learned how to survive as a turkey vulture she so no idea how to handle the air currents up in the sky. No idea what's okay to be near, what she should be frightened of. She thinks she's a person,” said Lewis.