Fans of the California Condor Recovery Program may be familiar with Condor #321. She was the condor who, in April 2007, flew north from her release site in the Sierra de San Pedro Martir National Park, in Baja California, Mexico, across the international border into California. This marked the first time that a California condor had been seen flying free in San Diego County since 1910! (more…)
When people hear about California condors at a captive breeding facility, they understandably assume that all birds there are involved in breeding pairs, or are chicks waiting to be released to the wild. In actuality, one of the most important roles a captive condor can play is the job of mentor.
Like the other ten California condor eggs laid this season, egg #0810 was pulled to artificial incubation so its progress could be closely monitored. On day 8 of incubation, the signs of a possible embryo malposition (upside-down, opposite of what is normal) were noted in the records.
In the spring of 1982, a condor hatched in the rugged wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, just north of Fillmore, California. By the time it fledged, or left its nest, in late summer, only 22 California condors existed in the world. The California Condor Recovery Program decided to form a “captive flock” of condors at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo in the hope of breeding condors to be released back into the wild to help increase the size of the “wild flock.” The plan was to collect juvenile condors or wild-laid eggs to hatch in captivity (see Sespe’s blog entry from May 23, 2008). When these chicks and fledglings would reach maturity, the goal was to release their offspring to the wild. (more…)
With a wingspan of up to 9 1/2 feet and its penchant for soaring, there is no denying the majesty and grace of the California condor. They are symbolic of the San Diego Zoo’s conservation efforts and bi-national partnerships. Soaring silently over the landscape, condors remind us of the profound beauty and wildness in nature. They show us how human activities can quickly eliminate a species, but drastic science-based collaborations can help to bring them back from the abyss of extinction.
Nikoy (pronounced “NEE-koy”) lives in the California condor exhibit at Condor Ridge at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. He is housed with two adult condors, male Meymey and female Sespe (see their blog entries from March 25, 2008 and May 23, 2008). He has not always lived here at the Park. He hatched here in 2004, and was raised as a release candidate, which means he had minimal human contact in order to maximize his chances for success after being released to the wild. He was sent to the release site at Sierra de San Pedro de Martir National Park in Baja California, Mexico when he was 14 months old. After a year socializing with his cohort and his field mentor, Xewe (see her blog entry from January 23, 2008), he was set free in 2006.
In 1983, the California Condor Recovery Program was authorized to collect California condor eggs from wild nests in order to incubate and hatch them in a captive environment. Four eggs were collected from three different pairs in the mountains north of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara. All four eggs were taken to the San Diego Zoo where they were set in incubators and eventually hatched. It was the first time ever that a California condor hatched in captivity! This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of that historic occasion.
Meymey (pronounced “MAY-may”) is one of the California condors on exhibit in Condor Ridge at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. He has been on exhibit since Oct. 23, 2007, the day after the Witch Creek Fire swept through the Park and destroyed one of our Condor Breeding Facilities. Meymey’s pen was one of the structures destroyed, so we decided to put him in the exhibit.
There have been many milestones in the history of the California Condor Recovery Program, but this year marks the 20th anniversary of the most important one. On April 29, 1988, a little condor hatched at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.