Aiding the endangered
April 24, 2024
Lori Arent
A condor patient on an examination table

In the fall of 2005, The Raptor Center (TRC) hospital spread its wings to help a California condor injured at the northern rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The veterinarian for the California Condor Recovery Program was unavailable at the time, so the 2-year-old condor was shipped via airline to TRC for expert care.

At the time, this condor was one of only 127 in the wild and one of three surviving wild-hatched condors. It weighed in at 17 pounds, had an awe-inspiring wingspan of over 9.5 feet, and was the largest bird ever treated in TRC’s hospital.

It sustained a wing fracture that did not require surgery. The challenge was managing this bird as its fracture healed. In captivity, young condors often habituate to people quickly, which prevents their release to the wild. According to the recovery team, this was the expected outcome for this unique patient. But with the hard work of TRC staff and dedicated hospital volunteers, the condor patient never saw or heard people.

TRC's condor patient being released over the Grant Canyon
TRC's condor patient released by Chris Parish of The Peregrine Fund over the Grand Canyon in AZ. | Photo by the CA condor recovery team

The bird was in TRC’s care for a little over three weeks and remained as wild as the day it entered the hospital doors. Its fracture healed beautifully, and the bird was shipped back to Arizona, where it once again spread its formidable wings over its rightful home in the canyon skies.

Raptors in this article