Photo by Justin Criado

The National Aviary opened its newest exhibit June 19 in Condor Court, which is home to four Andean Condors, making it the only accredited zoo in North America to feature two pairs of Andean Condors, as well as actively managing them for breeding.

By Justin Criado

Birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs.

And the National Aviary in Allegheny Center opened a new exhibit June 19 that could easily be featured in the current blockbuster Jurassic World movie.

Condor Court is home to four Andean Condors as part of a partnership with a zoo in Cuenca, Ecuador where the Aviary funded one of the world’s largest Condor exhibits and breeding programs.

Less than 50 Condors remain in the wild in Ecuador, while there are 68 in captivity at 33 North American zoos. The Aviary is now the only accredited zoo in North America to feature two pairs of Andean Condors, as well as actively managing them for breeding.

“I think for the first time it allows us to tell the story of some of our field conservation projects. This one is the one in Ecuador with the Condors,” Kurt Hundgen, director of animal collections, said. “I think overall though it’s a great project and it benefits us in many ways. The best thing is for the birds and how it’s going to improve our management of the birds.”

The outdoor exhibit features a 20-foot tall rock façade, which mimics the Andes Mountains, as well as visitor-powered hand cranks that aerate bathing pools and Ecoboxes with voice recorded information about the birds and the Aviary’s efforts.

“Our hope is to establish a great breeding program here and the zoo in Ecuador, and our hope is to protect the species for years to come,” Cheryl Tracy, managing director, said.

The exhibit, which was designed by the Weber Group, has been in the works since 2013 and cost $700,000.

The two male-and-female pairs have neighbors in the existing Pygmy Falcon and Bald Eagle exhibits, and from all accounts, are getting acquainted with one other well.

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Photo by Justin Criado

A look at one of the Aviary’s Andean Condors, which are featured in the new Condor Court exhibit.