The Andean condor that hatched at the Denver Zoo in 2007 is about to fly the coop. The bird, brought up with limited human contact, was airlifted to Colombia, where it will be released into a native habitat it has never seen: the Andes Mountains. There, the condor will spend 45 days in quarantine, joining 80 other condors from U.S. zoos that have been sent to the region in the last few years, according to Fox 31.
The condors, once on the verge of extinction, in part because of hunting, are slowly recovering thanks to the program, say zoo officials: "Since 1989, when the first young Andean condors were released into Colombia, monitoring by biologists in Colombia has confirmed that the released birds have survived, matured, and are now beginning to breed, a significant milestone of success for any reintroduction program." The Denver condor and another from the San Diego Zoo had spent two years in Florida before being taken to Bogotá for release in February, writes 7News, which notes the Denver Zoo has hatched two more chicks since 2007. To see some photos of the giant birds, which have a 10-foot wingspan, check out National Geographic's website.