© San Diego Zoo
The critically endangered Andean condor (Vultur gryphus) is the largest of the six South
American vulture species - their wings
can span over 12 feet! Andean
condors spend most of their days soaring, roosting and scavenging on carrion, the dead animals that comprise the
majority of their diet. There are
currently fewer than 2,000 Andean condors remaining throughout the Andes Mountains.
The greatest threats affecting the Andean condors are human-related
and include their being hunted for sport, or by ranchers who view them as
threats to their livestock. Condor
health is also compromised when they consume animals that died after ingesting
plants covered in pesticides. Since
these birds only reproduce once every two years, their populations are especially
sensitive to each individual loss.
The AZA Raptor Taxon Advisory Group and Andean
Condor Species Survival Plan® Program manage over 75 condors in 37 AZA-accredited zoos. Due to careful reproductive
management by these AZA Animal Programs, more than 65 Andean condor chicks have
hatched since 1990! Several AZA-accredited zoos work with local field
conservationists in Colombia,
Venezuela, and Peru
to reintroduce condors. Biologists track
and monitor these birds using satellite and radiotelemetry and have discovered
that they are breeding on their own - a significant milestone of success for
any reintroduction program!
Andean Condor Facts
weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, and are up to 4 feet tall.
||Condors have bald
heads, glossy black feathers and a feather collar called a ruff.
||Andean condors are sparsely distributed
throughout the Andes Mountains of South America from Venezuela southward to Tierra
||Condors eat carrion such as guanacos, llamas,
alpacas, seals, rabbits and squirrels as well as mice, fish, lizards, and
||Andean condors breed between September and
January, and lay one egg every two years. Parents feed chicks for up to a year
and a half.