Special day at Banham Zoo - complete with surprise guest

They are often portrayed as evil villains in children's cartoons and are not the most cute and cuddly of creatures, but the vulture received a ringing endorsement this weekend as part of a special day to raise awareness of their plight.

They are often portrayed as evil villains in children's cartoons and are not the most cute and cuddly of creatures, but the vulture received a ringing endorsement this weekend as part of a special day to raise awareness of their plight.

International Vulture Awareness Day was celebrated in Norfolk at Banham Zoo, with a display and activities for all the family - and featured the county's most recent celebrity, Anna Forrester.

The 20-year-old has been thrust into the limelight over the past two months as she took part in BBC2's Wildest Dream series.

The former Banham zoo worker was revealed as the winner last week and will now begin a much-coveted job with the BBC's world-renowned Natural History Unit.


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Miss Forrester, who said she was already being recognised in the street, returned to her former workplace to promote the vultures and take part in a special family display.

Miss Forrester, originally from Conington in Cambridgeshire, said: 'It's something I really believe in because I think people need to have their perceptions changed. They don't really like them because they're not cute and cuddly but they're actually very clever and charismatic and important to our environment.'

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Banham Zoo has cared for vultures since 1999 and over the past two years friends of the zoo have raised more than �4,000 for the Gyps Vulture Restoration Project in Pakistan.

The afternoon began with a chance for a member of the audience to name a baby vulture - which was christened Verity - and included the chance for four lucky people to fly the birds with the help of the keepers, including Miss Forrester.

Miss Forrester, who will move to Bristol at the end of this week to begin her first BBC assignment with the television programme Anutumnwatch, added: 'I'm really excited and really looking forward to moving but I'll miss everyone here. Eventually, a few years down the line, I'd like to be doing my own films but it's going to be a long way down the line. I think time's on my side though.'

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