LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Zoo reopened this week, and it's celebrating the arrival of a very special member of the zoo family.

A new baby condor that recently hatched at the zoo.

What You Need To Know

  • The Los Angeles Zoo reopened after being closed for 166 days due to the coronavirus pandemic

  • In 1987, the LA Zoo brought in the last 27 condors out of the wild because it was just a matter of time before they became extinct

  • Today, there are about 540 condors on the planet

  • With the zoos reopening, all guests must have advanced tickets to enter

The critically endangered species, whose population dipped to 22 at one time, is part of the zoo’s conservation efforts.

While the condors are off-limits to visitors, L.A. Times editorial writer Carla Hall got a close up look.

In 1987, it was decided the L.A. Zoo would bring in some of the last 27 condors out of the wild because it was just a matter of time before they became extinct.

“We have 11 breeding pairs here, and their job is to produce as many chicks as possible to release into the wild. This year from our 11 pairs, we had 19 eggs. In the wild, a condor is going lay an egg every year, raise a chick every other year, and that’s a very slow process when you’re trying to repopulate a bird that was almost extinct,” said Mike Maxcy, the curator of birds at the L.A. Zoo.

What the zoo is doing is they encourage multiple egg-laying so when a condor lays an egg, the workers put the eggs in their incubator, and they’ll lay an egg 30 days later. In that case, it gives the condors and workers a chance to raise two chicks. It also gives the birds the opportunity to raise their own young, which will double the amount when they are released in the wild.

“Right now we have about 540 condors on the planet. And most of those, over 300, are back in the wild. So this has been a success,” added Maxcy.

There have been many ups and downs in the process, but they’re almost to the point the condors will not need the zoo worker’s help anymore. 

They’ll get to be completely in the wild. That’s something the zoo workers have been working toward for the last 30 years.

Zoos have gone through a transformation from being places where it’s largely focused on bringing people closer to nature. In the last 20 years, there’s been an increasing focus on protecting animals in the wild.


“Zoos provide almost a quarter billion dollars every year to conservation programs around the world. So that’s critical in itself. From my perspective as a field biologist, I saw zoos as a place with lots of expertise in caring for animals, animal health, connecting the story of conservation with the people that are engaging and coming into the zoo to see the animals. And, that’s really the transition the zoos are going from,” said Jake Owens, the director of conservation at the L.A. Zoo.

With its reopening, all guests must have advanced tickets in order to enter the zoo. For more information, visit LAzoo.org.