Brandywine zoo swaps condors to build up a species

Mac has called the Brandywine Zoo home for 29 of his 33 years.  Animal conservationists feel so strongly in having Mac’s genes passed along that he’s being shipped to the San Diego Zoo.

Mac is an Andean condor.  The vulture is native to the countries along the Andes Mountains in Western South America.  However, the bird is becoming rare in Columbia and Venezuela.  That’s where Mac can help out. 

The Brandywine Zoo and San Diego Zoo are  a part of the Species Survival program.  Zoos in this program cooperate in having animals mate to as broad a population as possible. Mac’s genetic make up showed he was one of the least represented types of condors in the world.  Zoo officials say that’s what made him a prime candidate for breeding. There are 44 zoos that are a part of the program.  San Diego has bred 82 Andean Condors over the last 20 years. 

“Mac is already being introduced to his new mate at the San Diego Zoo,” says Nancy Falasco, Director of the Brandywine Zoo. “He’s in good hands.”

There is another condor at Brandywine, a female, named Miss Gryphus.  What to do now that she’s alone?  Never fear.  Enter Chavin.  Chavin moved in from the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas where he has lived since 1986.  He was born at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  Chavin is named after an ancient Peruvian culture.

Andean condors live up to 70 years in captivity, 50-60 years in the wild. An adult male weighs 24-33 lbs and an adult female, 17-24 lbs. The wingspan can reach up to 11 feet. They nest in shallow caves on cliff ledges, lay one egg, and both parents incubate the egg for 56-62 days. Both parents take care of the offspring which can fly at the age of 6 months. The parents breed in alternate years due to the extended parental care of offspring. The birds reach adulthood at 5-8 years.

Zoo officials hope that one day Mac’s and Chavin’s offspring will be released into the South American wild.  They believe programs like Species Survival raise awareness of the plight of these types of creatures.

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