Taronga’s juvenile Andean Condor, is practicing to join the popular QBE Free Flight Bird Show, delighting Christmas holiday visitors to the Zoo.
The female Condor, ‘Konira’, started training for the spectacular presentation only two months ago, progressing so quickly that keepers adjusted their routines so Konira could show off her newly acquired skills in the 3pm show.
“At the moment Konira is flying about 12 metres from our Condor Lawns down over the heads of visitors before landing, although a little awkwardly, on the stage,” Bird Show Supervisor, Matthew Kettle, said.
“Condors have one of the biggest wingspans in the bird world, typically measuring three metres, so she’s pretty awesome to watch in full flight. To see Konira in flight with Sydney Harbour as her backdrop really something special” said Matthew.
Konira joins older sister ‘Leslie’ who takes flight from a 12 metre tower at the back the theatre during the midday presentation.
“‘Leslie didn’t start her training until two years of age and took around 6 months before she was ready to join the Bird Show, so Konira has certainly raised the bar, but that’s the fun of working with animals, each of them has their own personality and timelines, and we just work with that, building up their confidence and skills as they naturally develop.”
“Since parents ‘Connie’ and ‘Bruce’ are getting older, Konira was incubated and reared by Taronga Bird Keepers to try and maximise breeding opportunities.”
The Andean Condor originates from South America’s Andes Mountains. They are scavengers and have extremely good vision, being able to spot food from a great height.
“Although Andean Condors are in decline they are doing OK in the wild., Many vultures species in Africa and Asia are critically endangered and on the brink of extinction. Lesley and Konira are helping us educate our visitors about the plight of vultures,” Matthew said.