Update on “Harry” the Condor

Posted at 3:10 pm January 16, 2007 by admin

I’m so excited to finally bring you news about Condor #134, a.k.a. “Harry”! You may recall the adult male condor that was discovered on the floor of the Grand Canyon last May. The bird was very sick and near death due to lead poisoning, but swift action and cooperation between Phoenix Zoo veterinarians, Wild Animal Park veterinarians, and the Park’s bird department lead to a life-saving transfusion (see Valerie’s blog, Harry the Condor’s Progress). As I left the story some months ago, he was on his way to a complete recovery, but not completely “out of the woods” yet. There have been many inquiries since about his progress, so here’s the continuation of Harry’s story….

Once he was well enough to leave the Phoenix Zoo veterinary hospital, it was time to prepare Harry for his long-awaited release back into the wild. He was held for a short time at Vermilion Cliffs’ treatment facility where he continued to improve, gaining weight and asserting dominance over other condors he was being housed with. Finally, on July 21, after over five months in captivity, Harry was released to his home in the Grand Canyon again, free to fly with the rest of the area’s condor population. Members of the Phoenix Zoo staff directly involved with Harry’s recovery were invited to witness his release that day; no doubt this was a gratifying conclusion to the long hours they contributed which allowed him to soar once again.

While we’re all grateful that Harry’s story was ultimately a happy one, the threat of lead poisoning is a continuing battle for conservationists. There have been other condors that didn’t fare as well as he, despite equally valiant efforts to save them.

There are strides being made in discouraging the use of lead bullets, which are one of the most serious risks to the health and well-being of the California condor. Since 2004, efforts have been underway to offer hunters free bullets made of copper as an alternative to their lead-filled counterparts. An organization known as “Project Gutpile” initiated the program and has made great progress in educating hunters and anglers, as well as the general public.

While many challenges remain in the preservation of the majestic California condor, the dedication shown by those who care for them will offer the best chance they have to remain alive, healthy, and free. Stories like Harry’s, and those of you who care enough to read them and be educated, serve as an excellent reminder of how precious and vulnerable these wonderful birds are, and how important our continued vigilance is to their species.

And finally, Hooray for Harry!

Valerie Stoddard is the senior administrative assistant at the Wild Animal Park’s Harter Veterinary Medical Center.

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6 Responses to “Update on “Harry” the Condor”

  1. Margaret says:

    Thanks for the update, Valerie. And a big ” Horray for Harry!” I did not have the pleasure of seeing condors flying when I visited the Grand Canyon a few years ago. They are indeed majestic birds and WAP is doing a great job of rearing and releasing them into the wild. Congratulations to all involved with Harry’s successful recovery and release.

  2. Pamela G says:

    Valerie, Thanks so much for the follow-up on Harry. It is astonishing what can be done when people who care work together. Blessings upon all of you who worked so hard to save Harry, and it is gratifying to know that there is an ongoing effort to solve the lead problem.

    Bravo to you all! And Hooray for Harry!

  3. Jeannie says:

    Hooray for Harry! You must have been reading my mind Valerie – I have been thinking about our ” Harry” for the past few weeks and was wondering how he’s doing. Thanks to all the wonderful people who helped bring Harry back from the brink – he’s one lucky bird – and all animal lovers are lucky to have all of you who do so much for those that can’t do for themselves – our beloved animals. You go Harry!!!!!!!

  4. shirley sykes says:

    Valerie, let me add my heart-felt thanks to all of you, here and in Arizona, who have helped put Harry back home in the wild. Each animal returned is such a special gift to us all! And let’s hope lead bullets will soon be ” extinct,” giving these wonderful birds a still greater chance at survival. And thank you, especially, for keeping us informed.

  5. Valerie says:

    Thank you all for being so dedicated and concerned for #134. There were some challenging and heart-wrenching times at the WAP in 2006, but there were far more happy endings like Harry’s! Being able to share them with all of you is such a gift. Here’s to a new year of continuing progress and milestones for our beloved furry and feathered friends, and much happiness and health to all of you…. :o)

  6. Stacy says:

    I have often wondered about our Harry…thank you so much for letting us share in the victory that is a happy, healthy, and free condor. Fly high, Harry!