Keeper talks will highlight California condors and other “master recyclers” on Vulture Awareness Day
On Vulture Awareness Day, the zoo will educate the community about California condors, turkey vultures and other biological waste controllers, while highlighting the critical role they play in ecosystems around the world.
There will be activities, keeper talks (at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and up-close views of these colorful, charismatic and critically endangered birds at the Condors of the Columbia habitat, where visitors can learn what small actions we can take to create a better future for vultures and their habitats.
California condors, the largest land birds in North America with wingspans of nearly 10 feet, play key role in ecosystems by recycling nutrients and disposing of dead, disease-ridden animals. They are both a biological and a cultural indicator species that provide valuable information about the diverse communities that sustain them, including humans' own creative capacity to give back to and support natural ecosystems.
Known to some indigenous peoples as "thunderbirds," they have long been revered by humans, but a confluence of pressures during the first half of the 20th century nearly drove them to extinction.
Condors were one of the original animals included in the 1973 Endangered Species Act. By 1987, only 22 remained in the wild, and all were brought under human care to save the species. The threats they face include lead poisoning, DDT and microtrash; the Oregon Zoo aims to educate hunters about non-lead ammunition.
Oregon condors vanished 100 years ago, but reappeared in 2003 when six pairs arrived at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation in Clackamas County (the Oregon Zoo's offsite breeding center) as part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife's condor recovery efforts. Since then 51 condors have been released in California and Arizona, with six more about to be set free in September. Thanks to breeding programs like the Oregon Zoo's, the world's California condor population now totals more than 460 birds (290 of which are flying free).
Since 2003, 63 chicks have hatched at the Jonsson Center, and 47 Oregon Zoo-reared birds have gone out to field pens for release. In addition, several eggs laid by Oregon Zoo condors have been placed in wild nests to hatch. Learn more.
ZooTeens will be hanging out in the Family Farm area providing information about these enormous birds and the actions we can take to protect them.
The event is from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free with zoo admission.