Want a daily email of lesson plans that span all subjects and age groups?
Learn more

Vultures: The acid-puking, plague-busting heroes of the ecosystem - Kenny Coogan

  • 494,685 Views
  • 9,763 Questions Answered
  • TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

In the African grasslands, a gazelle suffering from tuberculosis takes its last breath. The animal's corpse threatens to infect the water, but for the vulture, this isn't a problem: it's a feast. With a stomach of steel that can digest diseased meat and waste, vultures are essential to removing dangerous pathogens from ecosystems. Kenny Coogan explores the importance of the desert's cleanup crew.

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kenny Coogan
  • Director Katarina Jukić
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Katarina Jukić
  • Animator Katarina Jukić
  • Art Director Katarina Jukić
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Vultures are real life superheroes. Often portrayed as the villains, vultures are not only the clean-up and sanitation crew, they are also saving lives. Learn why 50% of all vulture species are endangered and how you can help. Kenny Coogan explores how vultures transform death and decay into life.

Have no fear, vultures are here. We need vultures and much as they need us now. With 50% of all vulture species endangered, there is a vulture crisis.

Vultures play a vital ecological niche in the habitats where they live. In regions of the world where vultures are being killed, incidents of humans with rabies have increased. In India, where nine species of vultures are now endangered, tens of thousands of people die of rabies annually. Although vultures have stomachs of steel and can safely eat diseased meat that contain anthrax, pneumonia, and rabies, vultures face a range of threats in many areas that they inhabit. Much of this is caused by poachers poisoning carcasses to prevent the vultures tipping off park rangers to the death of protected rhinos or elephants. Vulture species are under pressure and many species are facing extinction. We need to save these superheroes, so in turn they can save us.

To celebrate these scavengers, check out International Vulture Awareness Day events in your area.

Kenny Coogan, the educator of this TED-Ed animation, has admired and worked with vultures for many years. Visit his website to learn more and to check out painted feather which highlight vultures.



Customize This Lesson

Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kenny Coogan
  • Director Katarina Jukić
  • Narrator Addison Anderson
  • Storyboard Artist Katarina Jukić
  • Animator Katarina Jukić
  • Art Director Katarina Jukić
  • Sound Designer Weston Fonger
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Associate Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Eden Girma
  • See more