California condor

Gymnogyps californianus

Fascinating Facts

  • The California condor is the largest flying bird in North America, with a wingspan of up to 10 ft, weighing 18-25 lbs!
  • Known as “thunderbirds” to many Native Americans, condors are sacred and thought to bring thunder with beats of their large wings.
  • Only 27 individuals remained in 1987 (the last birds were placed in a breeding program).
  • There are over 400 as of 2014, with 219 condors thriving in the wild.
  • By riding air currents, condors can fly for hours without flapping their wings.


Condors once inhabited coasts and plains, but now live mostly in mountains due to human disturbance. They ride air currents up to 15,000 ft, and feed on carrion (deceased prey items). They usually eat large mammals like cow, deer, elk, and horses, and will gorge themselves when possible, unable to fly for hours afterwards.

Status in the Wild

Critically Endangered – IUCN 2014


Once found all along the west coast of North America, they are now limited to reintroduction sites in California, Arizona, and Baja California.

Location in the Zoo

Reptiles and Birds Zone of the Sculpture Learning Plaza

Animals & Exhibits