Happy Birthday Topa: 50-year-old California condor and father of 34!

He is celebrating his 50th birthday with quite the large family to be proud of! Topatopa, or Topa for short, is a handsome fellow, with a wingspan of over ten feet that females find very attractive. So much so, he’s fathered 34 offspring and is still going strong.  Topa is the first wild born condor brought into captivity, and that was back in 1966 when, as a struggling sick chick, he was brought to the Los Angeles Zoo for rehabilitation.

“Topa is one of the most, if not the most, genetically valuable California condor in the world,” says Mike Maxcy, Curator of Birds at the Los Angeles Zoo. “He is so special because he is of wild stock and unrelated to many of the original founders.  Topa came to us at a critical time when there were only 22 birds left in the wild, and he has been instrumental in increasing the population of California condors in captivity and the wild.”

No one really knows how long California Condors live in the wild, adds Maxcy, so it’s not known whether 50 is midlife or old.  He is key to the California Condor Recovery program, which estimates around 415 California Condors left in North America, a number that fluctuates a lot because to the many dangers they face, from habitat loss and pesticide contamination, to lead poisoning from eating bullet fragments in animals killed with lead bullets.

Happy Birthday Topa, and many, many more!

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