Santa Barbara Zoo team members featured in new book about California Condor
New York Times best-selling author Sy Montgomery features several team members from the Santa Barbara Zoo who played key roles in the California Condor Recovery Program in her latest book, “Condor Comeback.”
The California Condor Recovery Program is a multi-partner effort, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to recover the endangered California condor.
As the closest zoo geographically to the condor’s natural habitat, the Santa Barbara Zoo is one of only a handful of zoos to exhibit these endangered birds, and has been an active collaborator with the program since 2002.
For the next installment in her award-winning Scientists in the Field series, the longtime friend of the Santa Barbara Zoo was inspired by the zoo team’s dedication to its work with the California Condor Recovery Program, so she decided to follow their journey in “Condor Comeback.”
With color photography by Tianne Strombeck, “Condor Comeback” covers the history of the bird’s fight back from extinction, the dangers of lead poisoning and the relationship between condors and the Chumash nation.
“This is a terrific time to share the thrilling success story of the condor comeback with readers of all ages,” Ms. Montgomery said in a statement. “At a time when we hunger for healing and connection, here we present one of the world’s most creative, collective and concentrated conservation efforts of all time.”
According to the Santa Barbara Zoo, the last wild California condor was captured in April 1987 and was taken to live in captivity with the remaining 26 birds of its kind.
“Through the tireless work of condor program partners and stakeholders, the condor has been successfully bred in human care, been reintroduced after a period of extinction in the wild, has multiple generations of birds nesting in the wild, and has returned to historic breeding, nesting, and foraging habitat,” Dr. Estelle Sandhaus, director of conservation and science at the Santa Barbara Zoo, said in a statement. “Recovery is within our sights as we continue to partner with the community to reduce key anthropogenic threats, including the reduction of exposure to lead-tainted meat through the use of non-lead alternatives to lead ammunition.
“It has been such a privilege to work with Sy to bring this remarkable story of conservation partnerships and optimism to young readers all over the nation!”
Zoo members featured in the book include Dr. Sandhaus, condor biologist Dave Meyer, conservation and science associate Nadya Seal, condor nest biologist Erin Arnold and birdkeeper Ellie Culip.
“Conservation is one of our primary responsibilities as a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and we’re extremely lucky to have such an incredible, dedicated team,” Rich Block, CEO of the Santa Barbara Zoo, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the team got to play such an important role in this book, and we can’t wait for our community to read all about it!”
According to her website, Ms. Montgomery is perhaps best known for her 14-year love affair with Christopher Hogwood, a runt piglet who grew to a 750-pound great Buddha master. In addition to being a National Book Award finalist, in the past she has been honored with a Sibert Medal, two Science Book and Film Prizes for the Advancement of Science, three honorary degrees and more
“Thanks to people with different backgrounds and different talents — from zookeepers to field biologists, from Chumash elders to eager schoolchildren — these magnificent birds are back in the sky in the hundreds,” Ms. Montgomery said in a statement. “But we’re still not done yet, and the book tells how readers can help.”