News From Zoos
Wild-Caught California Condor Returned to the Wild
After 14 years in captivity, the last female California Condor caught in the wild was released on April 4th, 2000. Adult Condor-8 (AC-8) was captured on April 19, 1986 by the California Condor Recovery Team, whose plan was collect the few remaining wild Condors and bring them into captivity in hopes of instituting a breeding program that
would allow offspring to be released into the wild. The team was a partnership involving several institutions - the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, and the Los Angeles Zoo - and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Despite initial protests by those who felt the program would result in the extinction of the species, the program
has been a tremendous success. The 27 Condors in captivity in 1987 have flourished, leading to a current population of 155 Condors, with 56 of them living in the wild. During her time in the captive-breeding program, AC-8 produced 9 offspring, and she is the first of the original wild-caught Condors to be released. For the last several months, AC-8 has been housed in a flight pen at the Los Angeles Zoo with two juvenile
Condors who were released along with her, to help them hone their survival skills. They have also undergone power pole aversion training, in which a realistic power pole installed in their flight pen provided a light shock whenever a Condor landed on it, reinforcing the necessity for Condors to stay away from these potentially fatal structures in the wild. Once released, the Condors will be tracked via satellite through special transmitters that have been fitted to the birds' wings. Observing AC-8's behavior upon her return to her native territory will provide crucial information to researchers, and will greatly assist future Condor releases.
Ohio Zoos Helping to Save Manatees
In two separate incidences this February, manatees that had been rehabilitated with the help of Ohio zoos were returned to the wild. On February 16th, Comet, a 1,000 lb. manatee that had been rehabilitated at the Columbus Zoo, was released at Blue Springs State Park, FL as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) rehabilitation
program. The manatee was fitted with a satellite/radio/sonic transmitter belt purchased by the zoo, to follow his post-release movements and behavior. And on February 22nd, Xoshi, a female manatee that had been abandoned as a calf, then rescued and rehabilitated at the Lowry Park Zoological Gardens in Tampa, was released into the St.
John's River near Orlando. Technology paid for by the Cincinnati Zoo Conservation Fund will allow for monitoring of her movements, as well. Visitors to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden will be able to see Xoshi's position from a computer terminal in their Manatee Springs exhibit. Both the Cincinnati Zoo and the Columbus Zoo opened manatee exhibits in 1999Manatee Springs in Cincin-nati, and Manatee Coast in Columbus. The manatees that inhabit the exhibits were lent as part of a FWS program
designed to free space in Florida facilities for the critical care of manatees that are injured by boat propellers or become tangled in fishing lines.
Zoological Society of San Diego Receives $7.5 Million Grant
The Zoological Society of San Diego (ZSSD) received the largest grant in its 83-year history this month, when it was awarded seven and a half million dollars by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation. The donation, of which $5 million is an outright gift and $2.5 million is a challenge grant to be matched by other donors, will help construct a
$20 million Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) facility at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. CRES, the research and conservation branch of the ZSSD, melds high-tech science with in situ field work to study and preserve endangered animals and their habitats. "Because the CRES staff and projects have increased significantly since the CRES was founded 25 years ago, we desperately need new research facilities," said Dr. Kurt Benirschke, president, Zoological Society. "The gener-ous
Beckman Foundation grant is an incredible beginning to building our new facility and will enable us to continue leading the world in research and wildlife conservation efforts."
CRES will be built as a second phase of the Paul Harter Veterinary Medical Center, which will open at the Wild Animal Park later this year.
Information for News from Zoos is provided by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.