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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 9:25 am | Fair 54º


Condors Settling In as Zoo’s Newest Celebrities

Four birds take new wing of California Trails exhibit, while zoo plans a welcome party for Saturday

You’ve heard about them, you’ve read about them, but chances are you’ve never seen one — certainly not up close. Thanks to the Santa Barbara Zoo’s new $7.5 million California Trails exhibit, however, you can check out legendary, and rare, California condors any time you like.

Four of the birds, each with a nine-and-a-half-foot wing span, are on view in Condor Country, a spacious hilltop aviary that opened this week at the zoo. The exhibit covers 6,000 square feet and 174,000 cubic feet of “glide space,” and includes redwoods, oaks, wooden “snags,” a stream, two different pools and views of the birds’ native Santa Ynez Mountains. The zoo’s four juvenile birds hatched within a two-week period in April 2007 at the Peregrine Fund World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.

California condors have recovered from the brink of extinction; there are now 321 birds, with more than half of the population flying free. The Santa Barbara Zoo is one of only three exhibits in the world displaying this highly endangered species.

The zoo will hold a community celebration of the California Trails complex from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Zoo keepers will be on hand to discuss endangered and threatened animals in the exhibit; visitors can meet some of the animals, including Finnegan, a Channel Island fox hand-raised at the zoo; there will be Native American dances; and skits and crafts.

Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Zoo, 500 Niños Drive.

Michelle J. Wong is a Noozhawk intern.

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