Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Trip to the Condor-arium and the San Diego Wild Animal Park

It isn't The Wild Animal Park anymore, it is now the San Diego Safari Zoo.  Fine.  I can roll with it.
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But it still has Condors.  And now (okay like for the last 10 years, but now for me) you can see them up close.  You have no idea how much this meant to me.  I was in living in LA when the arguments were going on whether to round up the last free Condors or not.  In 1987 they brought in the last few.  In 1987 there were 22 in the world.  TWENTY-TWO.
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Now, my friends were dying of AIDS and the world was full of horrible things I couldn't control, and I was ready to give up.
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But.
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But, the Condors were successfully bred in Los Angeles Zoo and the San Diego Zoo.  I actually drove down once to see a chick.  You could only see the chicks, because they wanted Condors afraid of people. So the chicks were raised behind one-way glass, with a hand puppet of a mother Condor feeding them.
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And then last week I went to San Diego with Ed, drove 31 miles, hiked up about a half mile and saw this...
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This ugly / beautiful amazing bird won't be let out.  She is a prize of the breeding program.  This is one of those same 22 birds captured in 1987!  This is one of the group that made it!
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There are now over 420 birds.  Over 200 in the wild.  The fly again in the California Coastal Mountain Range, the Sierra Nevada range, over the Grand Canyon and Baja California again.  Even over Zion National Park where some moved and established themselves from the Arizona birds.
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In the picture below, in the upper left there is a second bird.  I didn't get the one that was farthest away.  He was a juvenile let into the aviary to get his skills up to speed before being released.
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I cried.
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Two of the Condors, sunning themselves in the morning.  
So people did that.  People who wouldn't take no for an answer, and who wouldn't be the ones letting a species die.
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And, in a world where gun control is considered evil, California has banned lead bullets. Good for the NRA and the legislature to work together on that!  Condors are scavengers and the lead shot was poisoning them.  After a lot of work, California has banned those bullets.  New ones are more expensive, but the legislature, and the NRA(!) have agreed it is a price worth paying.
The Condor-arium from 2/3s along the hike.
Today was horrible with Brussels and the responses to it. 
I needed to remind myself that we can fix some things.
 
People with Condor puppet feeding chicks.
At first they had to take the chicks away from the parents because of DDT.  The shells were too brittle and broke if they were incubated by the parents.  That has changed with the absence of DDT.

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