Tatoosh, Meriwether, Ursa and Wiley Prepare to Fly Free in Arizona
PORTLAND, Ore. — Early last year, four condors from the Oregon Zoo were sent to the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, in preparation for their release into the wild in Arizona.
Among these birds is Tatoosh (No. 367), hatched in April 2005, the second condor to be hatched in Oregon in more than a century. The others are Meriwether (No. 379), also hatched in 2005, and Ursa (No. 404) and Wiley (No. 420), both hatched in the spring of 2006.
Tatoosh, Ursa and Wiley are slated for a March 15 release at the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona. Meriwether will be released at a later date.
Last year was a record year for Oregon Zoo condors: An unprecedented seven eggs were laid, including two by condor pairs who had never produced eggs before. Unfortunately, an abundance of eggs doesn’t guarantee an abundance of chicks; three eggs were infertile and a fourth proved to be unviable partway through incubation. The low fertility was likely due to the number of young females in the program. California condors don’t reach sexual maturity until about 5 to 7 years of age.
The condor recovery goal is to establish a captive population of 150 birds and two separate wild populations of condors, one in California and the other in Arizona. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Condor Recovery Program coordinate and implement the recovery program and provide oversight of all program partners.
The Oregon Zoo’s condor recovery efforts take place at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, located in rural Clackamas County on
Metro-owned open space. The remoteness of the facility minimizes the exposure of young condors to people, increasing the chances for captive-hatched birds to survive and breed in the wild.
The Jonsson Center is currently home to 19 adult condors. The 7 eggs last season made a total of 15 since the center was established, and 10 chicks have hatched.
In 2001, the Oregon Zoo became the third zoo in the nation to join the California Condor Recovery Program. California condor captive-breeding programs are also operated at San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey. The Oregon Zoo was the recipient of the Wildlife Society’s Conservation Award for “creating the nation’s fourth California condor breeding facility” in April 2005.
Condors, the largest land birds in North America, have wingspans of up to 10 feet and weigh 18 to 30 pounds. They are highly intelligent and inquisitive, often engaging in play. Their range extended across much of North America during the Pleistocene Era, which ended about 10,000 years ago. By 1940, that range had been reduced to the coastal mountains of Southern California, and in 1967 condors were added to the first federal list of endangered species. In 1987, the 17 condors remaining in the wild were brought into captivity and a captive-breeding program was developed.
For more information about the Oregon Zoo’s California condors, visit www.oregonzoo.org/Condors/index.htm.
The zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission to inspire the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Washington pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot butterflies, western pond turtles and Kincaid’s lupine. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Zoo visitors are encouraged to ride MAX or take TriMet bus No. 63 to the Oregon Zoo. Visitors who take the bus or MAX receive $1 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238 RIDE (7433), or visit www.trimet.org for fare and route information.
General admission is $9.75 (12-64), seniors $8.25 (65+), children $6.75 (3-11), and infants 2 and under are free; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $1 per car is also required. Additional information is available at www.oregonzoo.org or by
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