Baja California Program

A California condor is released in Baja CaliforniaA female juvenile California condor takes her first flight into the wilderness in Baja California’s Sierra San Pedro de Martir release site.

Only a few hundred years ago, the California condor ranged from British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico. As European pioneers settled within its range, the species declined dramatically to near extinction in the mid-1980s. Working with Mexican partners, the San Diego Zoo’s Applied Animal Ecology Division has embarked on a long-term program to restore the California condor to the mountains of northern Baja California, Mexico. Given their flight capabilities, it is anticipated that reintroduced condors will ultimately range from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf of California, as well as northward across the U.S. border, providing an important link to existing reintroduced populations in California.

Over the next decade, four to eight condors will be released annually in the Sierra San Pedro de Martir National Park until the anticipated carrying capacity of 20 pairs is reached. This work involves behavioral research to produce the most successful and socially-adept release candidates, long-term monitoring using radiotelemetry and satellite GPS technology, and studies of environmental carrying capacity. This information is critical in learning how condors utilize and affect their habitat, comparing different release techniques, and identifying and monitoring threats to survival. This work also involves educational outreach in local communities, including development of ecotourism for long-term economic sustainability in the region.