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Nursing professor helps release condor into the wild

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January 15, 2003

a condor in flightNursing professor Shannon Perry became a part of wildlife history last month, when she participated in the sixth release of captive-bred California condors.

Perry, a maternal nursing specialist, won the opportunity to watch the release of seven condors in Big Sur through an auction run by the Ventana Wilderness Society.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Perry said. “These are magnificent, huge birds. They’ve never flown before, and their flying was just magnificent. They flew really high, and then swooped back down, like they were playing, figuring out what all this is.”

Perry attended the release with her sister, Joan Vogel, a bird enthusiast who traveled from Florida for the event. The two were featured in several newspaper articles about the condors. The Dec. 12, 2002, event raised the number of wild condors in Big Sur from 16 to 23.

While volunteers ordinarily attend the condor releases from a distance, aided by binoculars to see the birds take flight, this was the first year people not affiliated with the Society were so close to the condors, said Ventana Wilderness Society spokeswoman Sheila Foster.

“The volunteers pulled open the doors, and slowly the condors flew out,” Foster said, though condor 260, the one Perry sponsored, was hesitant to leave its cage.

“We opened the cage and nothing happened. Our bird sat there for about three minutes before a biologist tapped on his cage and he flew away,” Perry said. “To think that these birds had never flown before, imagine what this experience must be like for them.”

Perry, who will retire this year, is currently in the United Kingdom teaching a course in maternity and midwifery for students from SFSU. She plans to travel with student groups to Italy and Thailand this summer, and is working on several writing projects.

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Last modified January 15, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs