Drastic measures were taken in 1987 to save California condors from certain extinction. Thanks to a lot of hard work and our generous supporters and collaborators, there are now over 400 California condors on the planet, with half flying free in California, Arizona, and Baja California, Mexico.
To aid the recovery of the species, a Condor Field Station was created in the Sierra San Pedro National Park. The rugged, steep terrain infused with pine trees and wildlife was an ideal location to release California condors. At 8,000 feet in elevation, there is seasonally harsh weather, which made the change from a modest (and chilly) collection of campers for researchers and volunteers to a two-story brick structure with roaring fireplace a welcome improvement.
The main function of the field station is to support the reintroduction of condors into the Sierra San Pedro—a highway in the sky for these birds—with annual releases of four to seven zoo-bred birds. In 2007, a young condor flew north from Mexico into the US, spent the night on a mountain in the Cleveland National Forest, then returned the next day, following the same Sierra ridgeline she used to fly north.
Happily, there are now 30 free-flying California condors in Baja California, with the first wild chick emerging from its nest in 2014, which has not happened since the 1940s. As these condors thrive, a sustainable population will hopefully emerge that mixes and mingles on both sides of the border. We are pleased to work closely with our Mexican partners to ensure this iconic bird continues to soar on the thermal winds.
We have hatched over 180 California condor chicks at the Safari Park since 1985, when there were only 22 birds left. Our collaborative work has lead to over 200 California condors flying free and 200 birds in breeding facilities. We launched a Condor Cam in 2012 so people around the world can watch condor parents raise their chick from a wobbly hatchling to a determined fledgling. Each hatchling is critical to the survival of this species.