Saturday, March 01, 2008

The One Day of the Cóndor

Taking my group to Otavalo, it first seemed that the highlight would be the main market, the previously noted meat market and the surrounding crafter villages. But the star attraction was up on a windswept hillside at Parque Cóndor. The birds were the true star attractions, but almost as memorable is park director, a Dutch man named Joep Hendriks. His love for these remarkable birds is equaled by their attachment to him.

In general I am opposed to zoos (poor Tatiana!), but this place is an appropriate place for humans and animals to converge. The only birds on display are those who have either imprinted with humans or who have been injured, have development problems or were abused by humans. There were some disturbing stories Joep shared of birds brought to him in paper bags, one that had been a pet of a priest and was near death when they found it, others that had horrible accidents before he rescued them.

Any bird that has a chance or recuperating and returning to the wild is kept out of display to avoid human imprinting. It was lucky for us that we saw a 35-year-old cóndor rescued from the Quito Zoo and spreading its magnificent wings.

I had the chance to let one of the birds perch on my gloved wrist, and I hope to have photos of me taken by my fellow travelers to post soon.

As a finale, Joep demonstrated some of the free flight animals.

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At 5:23 PM, Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Wow, a 35 year old condor? That is amazing. Did you sense anything from these birds, like personality, temperament, mood, etc. the way we do with dogs and cats?

I'm with you about zoos, though I know that by and large, Zoo people really love animals. Still ... it's so WEIRD.

Next time you're in DC PLEASE let me know Would love to meet. A bunch of bloggers are converging here and in NYC in late April/early May. Want to join the party? You would LOVE the cinema exhibit at the Hirschorn - you of all people would truly love it. Think about it!

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Reya - I agree that most zookeepers are good people that love animals, but, yes, still...

Parque Condor was a very moving experience. I did sense that the birds had pain from the past but felt very happy, protected, loved and loving. It was really hard to not reach over and pet that falcon when I had him on my arm. He was so sweet looking. It was touching that he seemed to feel so trusting and content perched on me.

Keep me posted on that blogger meet up. If that includes some of our mutual NYC blogger buddies, you might just lure me there. My email is

At 7:12 PM, Blogger kimy said...

I have a fantasy that I may have been a falconer in an earlier life.... I'd love to see a condor in the wild....


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