Motswari was around eight months old when she smashed into a power line in South Africa, sending her into a violent spiral toward the ground.
She survived, but the injury robbed her from the key trait for vultures to eat and to live. Motswari’s cream, black-tipped wing was shattered. She could no longer fly.
But as a member of a long-dwindling population of Cape vultures, an important link in the ecosystem now endangered by human activity, Motswari was still vital. Perhaps even existentially important to what’s left of her species.
Motswari was a member of an eight-vulture cadre spirited off to the United States to breed chicks in a race against encroaching doom, said Kerri Wolter, the chief executive and founder of VulPro, a South Africa-based conservation group that helped get Motswari and others to the country.
She settled at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado becoming an icon for awareness and fundraising for the often maligned and vastly misunderstood birds,…