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The environmental vacuum cleaner.

At one time or another, we've all seen buzzards. In some parts of the country, they're called vultures. They are large, ugly birds with bald heads. Their wingspans are six to ten feet. Their feathers are usually oily.

These birds are like environmental vacuum cleaners. They remove the remains of dead animals from the woods and roadsides. Because they eat dead animals, they are called scavengers. Smelling like rotting flesh is normal for them. By eating dead animals, they do two things: First, they keep the forests and roads clean of dead animals. Second, they keep rabies under control.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the brain. It causes animals to go "mad." If a wild animal, such as a raccoon, were to walk out of the woods and try to get you to play with him, chances are he may have rabies. After all, friendly behavior from a wild animal is strange behavior. If the rabid animal were to bite you, you, too, could get rabies. You can also get it just by touching a rabid animal. He doesn't have to bite you. Rabies always kills the animals it infects. Most humans survive rabies, but have to take painful rabies shots.

Buzzards are the only creatures on Earth that cannot get rabies. That's right! When buzzards eat animals that have died of rabies, they are eliminating the threat of other animals getting rabies. If another animal, like a dog, were to eat a dead, rabid animal, he would get rabies and die. With buzzards around, that's not likely to happen.

Controlling the threat of a rabies epidemic is a valuable service to mankind. Because of this, buzzards are protected in most states. You could go to jail for killing a buzzard. When you're driving down the highway, and you see these ugly scavengers cleaning up a dead animal, don't bother them. Sure, they're ugly and maybe even disgusting. But they're making the world a little safer by eliminating the threat of rabies. They are perfect examples of the balance of nature.

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Author:Williams, Michael
Publication:Fun For Kidz
Date:Nov 1, 2014
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