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U.S. hatched Andean condors return to Colombia.

Four Andean condors recently returned to South America as part of a successful international collaborative program that reintroduces the endangered Andean condor to its native home range in Colombia. For more than 14 years, the Zoological Society of San Diego has been working with South American government agencies and conservation organizations to send Andean condors to both Colombia and Venezuela.

"The Andean condor program is international in scope and involves a number of U.S. zoos as well as federal and local agencies in South America," said Michael Mace, curator of birds for the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's (AZA) Andean condor Species Survival Program (SSP) coordinator. "One of the most rewarding aspects for a zoo is to be able to participate in release programs where, as in this case, birds are specifically reared and returned to the wild."

One male and three female Andean condors from the San Diego Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, Dallas Zoo and a condor offspring from a Cincinnati Zoo breeding pair on loan to the World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri were flown out of Miami and were to be received by CORPOBOYACA, a natural resources management agency, early Wednesday morning with the help of the Colombian federal agency Ministerio de Medioambiente de Colombia.

The Andean condor, found throughout the Andes from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, is threatened in its northern range and has become rare in Venezuela and Colombia. These two countries developed the reintroduction program to release captive-bred birds from conservation organizations such as North American zoos.

"The Los Angeles Zoo is proud to be part of the Andean condor Species Survival Program," said Susie Kasielke, Los Angeles Zoo curator of birds. "The young male Andean condor slated for release is the 33rd bird coming from the Los Angeles Zoo, 17 of which were hatched here," said Kasielke, who is also the Andean condor North American studbook keeper. "Nineteen facilities have produced eggs and chicks for release to the wild. The real measure of success is that some of the birds are now successfully reproducing in the wild."

The Zoological Society of San Diego has sent 30 Andean condors to South America from the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park over the last 10 years. Twenty-two of those birds were sent to Colombia. Three of the Andean condors sent to Colombia this month stayed at the Cincinnati Zoo's off-site breeding facility in preparation for transfer and release into the wild. After their arrival in Colombia, the birds will spend two weeks in a holding facility to acclimate to their new surroundings before their release into a wilderness area 50 miles northeast of Bogota.
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Title Annotation:News from Zoos
Publication:Endangered Species Update
Date:Apr 1, 2004
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