Condors' animal instinct takes over

July 18, 2008 6:08:05 AM PDT
California condors are making a comeback after taking flight under a trial by fire.

The endangered condors instinctively were able to care for themselves after their handlers were forced to flee as wildfires threatened their remote sanctuary near Big Sur.

Officials at the Ventana Wildlife Society says the giant birds found fresh air and feasted on a beached whale and decaying California sea lion. And many of them also returned to their pens once the fire threat had passed.

Man had to step in at the height of the wildfire to rescue seven 1-year-old chicks and their adult mentor. But executive director Kelly Sorenson says there was a lot of fist-pumping when staffers realized the adult birds that had to fend for themselves had survived.