Safari Park condor chicks given high-flying names

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SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Three California condor chicks hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in March were given names by members of the Kumeyaay bands of San Diego, park officials said Sunday.

The Kumeyaay bands include San Pasqual, Campo Kumeyaay and San Ysabel of Kumeyaay.

The three young birds were named Met-ha my wahm, meaning “high wind rider”, Po-mahn-kwakurr, meaning “far-off flyer”,  and Eyaip-poman, meaning “flies through”.

They are representatives of their species, which are seen as symbols of power by indigenous North American people, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said.

The condors are candidates for future reintroduction into the wild.

“Condors, like many native species, are part of Kumeyaay traditional stories,” said Johnny B. Contreras, San Pasqual Band tribal elder and cultural committee member. “To be part of the beginning of these chicks’ journey is to be aware of their future among all of our lives. San Pasqual is proud to be part of this process.”

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been helping restore California condor populations since 1987, park officials said.

The recovery program prepares young condors to be independent of humans, they said. The three chicks are being raised by their parents with limited exposure to people to encourage them to learn natural condor behaviors.

“The sight of a California condor’s nine-foot wingspan soaring overhead has inspired human beings for centuries,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “By working with the San Pasqual Band to name these newly hatched chicks, we are honoring that inspiring history and reconnecting people with the wildlife around us.”

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has collaborated with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife to recover the iconic species’ numbers from a low of 22 to the current population of more than 500.

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