Andean Condor


© 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

Status Critically Endangered
Size Adults weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, and are up to 4 feet tall.
Appearance Condors have bald heads, glossy black feathers and a feather collar called a ruff.
Habitat Andean condors are sparsely distributed throughout the Andes Mountains of South America from Venezuela southward to Tierra Del Fuego.
Diet Condors eat carrion such as guanacos, llamas, alpacas, seals, rabbits and squirrels as well as mice, fish, lizards, and insects.
Breeding 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.