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The Santa Barbara Zoo recently welcomed three new California condors to its habitat as a part of the endangered scavenger’s national recovery program. Young brother and sister condors 960 and 816 are joined by condor 727, a 5-year-old female serving as a “mentor bird” to the younger siblings following her unsuccessful acclimation to the wild.
The program, established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1979, rehabilitates and breeds condors across various West Coast zoos. Every California condor hatched since 1979, both in the wild or captivity, is a part of the effort and receives a number corresponding to their age. (Generally, the lower the number, the older the bird.) The Santa Barbara Zoo has hosted 14 of the birds since 2009.
With the arrival of the new condors comes the bittersweet departure of numbers 174, 327, 524, and 603. “It’s always hard to see animals you’ve cared for over the years leave the Zoo, but it’s also exciting to see the progress they’ve made and that they’re ready for their next step,” said Rachel Ritchason, director of animal collections. “We’re happy to know these birds will continue to thrive and contribute to the recovery of their species.”