MNN Galleries

8 animals pulled back from the brink of extinction

California condor

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

5 of 10

California condor

The largest North American land bird, the California condor, became extinct in the wild in 1987 when the remaining 22 individuals were captured for conservation purposes. A captive breeding program, led by the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo, got off to a bumpy start but has developed into a great conservation success story. The world population of California condors is now about 350 birds, and more than half of them have been successfully released back into the wild in the skies above California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico.