This story pisses me off on several levels.
German Zoo Forces Gay Vultures to Mate With Females
First I strongly object to them even calling the birds gay. They are a bonded pair. Male-bonded pairs are a natural occurrence throughout the animal kingdom.
Female/male bonding pairs don't point at the same-sex sweethearts and gossip; they don't chase them from feeding stations; they don't give them a hard time about nesting in the neighborhood. Humans invented the concept of separating individuals according to their sexual preferences. These are just birds doing what birds do without the repressive labels we humans believe are so necessary.
What is, or should be, a key issue is the quality of life for these two. Not all species bond; some were born to lead solitary lives. But for the ones that have the evolutionary instinct to form close relationships with a partner or group, emotional quality of life improves when they find their special someone(s) and declines when they are separated from that partner. Anyone who's heard the laments of a widowed mourning dove (and if you haven't, consider yourself lucky) or who has nursed a dog or cat through the loss of its best animal friend knows that grief is a mysterious and powerful emotion shared throughout the animal world.
In general, I support efforts by rescue groups to preserve and increase the numbers of endangered species and breeds. But sometimes rescuers lose sight of their original goals (the betterment of life for the species/breed) and become obsessed with the mission itself (must save every life). They also lose sight of what, to me, is the most important issue in our efforts to help and restore health to endangered animals: providing quality of life to the ones we save.
Time and again, we've seen dog and cat rescuers turn into dog and cat hoarders, unable to provide the ones they save with the dignity and compassion they deserve. My former vet melted down in that direction: the more zealously she pursued ambitious, cross-country rescue missions, the worse the care her patients and the rescues in her care received, until, one awful day, I realized I could no longer trust her to make good decisions about my dogs' health.
I feel about animal life the way I do about human life: duration of life means very little without quality of life. Are they so desperately in need of a few more birds that they have to put these vultures through some undetermined period of heartbreak? If so, they should say so. Otherwise, one gets the impression that zookeepers are so blinded by their mission to assure reproduction of this species that they can't make allowances for birds who don't fit into their master plan.
One would think that a 21st century German zoo would have at least one director who learned a thing or two from history and would speak out for a more enlightened and less bio-centric approach that would take the needs and desires of the animals into account rather than using them as mere means towards an end.