San Diego Zoo Donates to Condor Partner

Posted at 2:10 pm August 27, 2008 by Karyl Carmignani

The San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park curator of birds delivered a $10,000 check to aid the Ventana Wildlife Society in its recovery from a devastating wildfire. A California condor formerly from the Wild Animal Park was lost in the fire.

“The Ventana Wildlife Society is one of our partners in the conservation of the California condor,” said Michael Mace, Wild Animal Park curator of birds. “To date, the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park has sent 34 condors for release to the condor sanctuary in Big Sur. Ventana’s success is as important as our success in reestablishing this critically endangered species in California.”

If you would like to support the rebuilding effort for the California condors at Ventana Wildlife Sanctuary, please visit their Web site at With your help, they will soar once again!

Two condors were lost and are presumed dead after a June wildfire burned for more than a month through Big Sur, California, where the Ventana Wildlife Society operates its condor sanctuary. Two birds have not been located since the fires began in June, including condor No. 278, a male that hatched at the Wild Animal Park.

“It’s hard to put a value on the loss of a 6-year-old male that was about to breed and an up and coming female,” said Joe Burnett, Ventana Wildlife Society senior wildlife biologist. “It’s devastating to lose any birds. We can rebuild the pens, but we can’t replace the birds.”

Big Sur is home to more than 40 wild condors, including mature condors that are now breeding in the wild. Three condor nests are within the burned area. Ventana Wildlife Society biologists entered two of the three nests, finding the chicks alive and healthy this week. The biologists suspect the third chick is also alive after observing the parents continuously returning to the nest. Unfortunately the fire’s aftermath created conditions that prevent the biologists from entering this nest.

The $10,000 donation from the San Diego Zoo will help replace equipment and supplies so that field biologists in Big Sur can continue to track the free-flying condors and monitor the nests. Contributions from individuals to the San Diego Zoo’s California Condor Relief Effort will help offset the Zoo’s donation and can be made by visiting the Zoo’s California Condor Conservation Website at

“Our whole goal is to get up and running without delay in our efforts to return the condor back into the wild so that it is once again self-sustaining,” said Kelly Sorenson, Ventana Wildlife Society executive director. “The Zoological Society of San Diego is playing a big part in helping us get back up and running.”

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