Benjamin Vierling "Gymnogyps californianus"
The magnificent California Condor is the largest North American land bird, and can live up to 60 years in the wild. It figures prominently in Native American mythology and ceremonial costume. With its 10-foot wingspan, it can fly up to 55mph and to 15,000 feet, and often glides for miles without flapping its wings. Once plentiful in California, Arizona and Utah, the condor population plummeted in the 20th century due to poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction.
By 1987, there were only 22 condors surviving in the wild. The U.S. government then put a conservation plan in place that led to the capture of all 22 remaining wild condors, which were then bred in captivity at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. The project is the most expensive species conservation project ever undertaken in the United States. Their numbers having risen through captive breeding, condors began to be reintroduced into the wild in 1991. As of December 2011, there are 390 condors known to be living, including 210 in the wild. Though the wild birthrate remains low, the captive breeding program continues to release adolescent condors into the wild.
Jolene Lai "Condor No. 12"
Rodrigo Luff "California Condor"