FILLMORE, Calif. -- Two endangered California condors made biological history yesterday as the first of their kind allowed to roam the wild since 1987, but for their first several hours of freedom, the birds refused to take flight.
Yesterday's momentous release -- viewed as a major test of the U.S. endangered species program -- had been eagerly awaited by biologists ever since a controversial captive breeding program to save the majestic vulture from extinction was launched 10 years ago.
"I've waited for this minute for five years," said Jan Hamber, a University of California, Santa Barbara, biologist who was involved in capturing the last condor on Easter Sunday in 1987. "We're the ones who were here when the last ones were brought in. It's just incredibly exciting to see the birds come back into the wild."