What a great story on condors by Matt Kettmann [“The Great California Condor Comeback,” 1/7/10]. This in-depth article is a fitting and exciting tribute to all the condor researchers, conservationists, and enthusiasts, who have invested more than three decades in the effort to preserve this amazing icon of all that’s wild in California. When the Santa Barbara Zoo made initial inquiries back in 1998 and 1999 into formally joining the recovery effort, generating interest in condors that would result in stories like Kettmann’s was one of our goals.
Our great condor adventure really took off (to use common bird terminology) when the Santa Barbara Zoo joined the California Condor Recovery Team in September 2002. We are proud to be partners in this heroic conservation effort, involving many on our staff in everything from participating in the Nest Guard program to helping build and repair release sites in Big Sur, Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, and Baja California. We are thrilled with the significant contribution made by the work of Estelle Sandhaus, our director of conservation and research, so it was quite gratifying to see her field studies and research highlighted.
Building a larger constituency for the protection and conservation of these magnificent birds was an intended outcome of our California Trails exhibit. Since it opened last year, our four juvenile condors have since proven to be tremendous ambassadors for their kind and the recovery program. We are excited by the prospect of soon welcoming a fifth condor, an adult bird whose bright head coloration will make it quite distinct from our three-year-olds. — Rich Block, CEO, Santa Barbara Zoo