Rare Birds Mark Three Decades

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park condors mark a feathery-nice birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CONDORS: When a rather large bird, say a condor, marks an important milestone, say a 30th birthday, at a pretty famous place, say the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, what do you put in the cake? Frosting and sugar won't do for these rare birds, but mice, meatballs, rats, and beef spleen will. That was what was inside a cardboard cake -- cardboard so that the condors could tear at it to get their treat -- for the trio of famous condors at the animal park. The birds -- Sespe, Sisquoc, and Almiyi -- all turned 30 on Tuesday, April 16. It's an impressive age, but a condor can live twice that long. And these three have a rather interesting backstory: They arrived in their eggs, which were drawn from the wild to some controversy. At the time of their hatching, they were among the 22 condors left in the world. The Safari Park condors have gone onto to hatch many more times that number, some 170 chicks in all, with over 80 being returned to the wild.

CONDORS IN THE WILD: If you've seen the Safari Park superstars, where can you then go to see these majestic birds in their natural element? Baja and Central California are home to over half of the planet's condor population, which now stands at a much healthier (though small) 400+. Still, that is quite a jump from 22 condors just three decades ago. Thank you, Sespe, Siquoc, and Almiyi, and happy birthday.

AND MORE BIRDS IN SAN DIEGO: The Frequent Flyers Show at the Safari Park has announced that it has grown threefold since the mid-1990s (three must be the theme of the day). It's also the only bird show in the country to see a trained secretary bird, a beastie that stands -- wait for it -- some four feet tall.

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