Oldest female California Condor saved following emergency surgery

Traveler 171_VWS_Meredith Evans_IMG_2250[1].jpg
Posted at 5:51 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 01:48:39-04

At 25 years old the oldest female condor in the central California flock has been saved through a group effort by organizations from all over the state.

Condor 171, also known as "Traveler", faced the battle of her life after ingesting lead fragments back in June.

Two and a half months later it was a moment worth every picture and video.

“So we just released 171, a joyous day. She has been recovering the last two and half months," said Joe Burnett, senior wildlife biologist.

It was an all-hands-on-deck situation.

Los Angeles Zoo, Oakland Zoo, and Ventana Wildlife Society came together to save the condor’s life.

“She was really really sick and did not look good and in fact, if it weren’t for the surgery that took place at the LA Zoo, Traveler would have most certainly died," said Kelly Sorenson, Ventana Wildlife Society executive director.

Traveler was first seen at Pinnacles National Park exhibiting signs of illness.

She then was taken to the Oakland Zoo and later flown to the LA Zoo for surgery.

The cause of it all is lead poisoning when the birds scavenge the carcass of an animal that’s been shot with a lead bullet.

“The biggest threat to California condor recovery is the ingestion of lead ammunition. It causes lead poisoning and is extremely toxic," stated Sorenson.

Paralyzing the digestive system and leaving the animals to starve to death.

“Working in collaboration with hunters and ranchers to switch to non-lead ammunition," explained Sorenson.

For now, after six weeks in recovery, Traveler is one of the lucky ones making her way back home to Big Sur.

“She’s just getting acclimated she hasn’t been out here in quite a while, she’s kind of getting back in the mix," said Burnett.

“I’m told that her mate 209, also known as Shadow, found her and they were interacting so that’s a good sign," said Sorenson.

Ventana Wildlife Society offers free non-lead ammunition for hunters.