In considering the plight of the California condor—only 26 are alive at the time of this writing—we face the most important issue of contemporary conservation: Is “ex situ” conservation useful, or is it true that animals that live only in zoos do not “live?” Well-intentioned and strongly determined though both sides in this controversy are, we believe it to be a travesty of our intentions to try and settle the dispute in the courts, as though they possess the wisdom needed in this critical situation. In fact, if court intervention had not prevented the capture of a condor pair in 1950 by Belle Benchley, then director of San Diego’s Zoo, it is possible that it wouldn’t be necessary to write about their plight now. For she was able to prove that a related species, the Andean condor, was breeding four times more efficiently in the zoo than in the wild. Why not give the California condor the same chance?
KeywordsFlight Cage Court Intervention Turkey Vulture California Condor Andean Condor
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