A female California condor at the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City. Photo courtesy San Diego Zoo Global

Conservationists from San Diego Zoo Global joined U.S. and Mexican officials to celebrate the establishment of a new condor breeding program at the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City .

“The California condor’s recovery from the brink of extinction is one of our proudest accomplishments,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at a ceremony on Monday. “The prospect of expanding that success here today by establishing a California condor reintroduction program in Mexico is exciting for all of us.”

Two male condors arrived at the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City in 2006. Two female condors, one from the Santa Barbara Zoo and the other from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, arrived in the city in October.

Conservationists on both sides of the border hope the pairs will breed, creating offspring that can be released to join the wild population that has been reintroduced into Baja California.

“For many years San Diego Zoo Global has worked with Mexican partners to release California-born condors into the wild in Mexico,” said Allison Alberts, chief conservation and research officer for San Diego Zoo Global. “With the presence of these two pairs at the Chapultepec Zoo, we hope to see a renewed cross-border commitment to the species that will result in Mexican-born condors flying free in the skies of the San Pedro de Martir mountains.”

The California condor was reduced to less than two dozen individuals in the mid-1980s, due to habitat loss and lead poisoning in the environment. Through the joint effort of zoos  and the Fish and Wildlife Service, there are now more than 200 condors flying free in the skies of North America.

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