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New Video Game Called Groundbreaking Effort To Educate People About Endangered California Condors

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(National Park Service photo)
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California Condors the focus of new video game introduced at Santa Barbara Zoo

There is a new video game with a mission much more ambitious than just having fun.

“Condor Country” is being called the first mobile game to simulate real life efforts to save an endangered species.

The Santa Barbara Zoo, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and mobile development studio Cerebrus Interactive teamed up to create the free game app. It was unveiled at the Santa Barbara Zoo, outside of the Zoo’s exhibit of real-life condors.

Estelle Sandhouse, the Zoo’s Director of Conservation and Research, says its intended to be a fun way of teaching people about condors, and efforts to save the species.

The game puts users in the role of conservationists. Players are charged with taking a handful of birds and growing the population, while dealing with issues ranging from the biology of the birds to paying for the conservation efforts.

The Santa Barbara Zoo, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used $40,000 in grants to fund the project. Zoo Education Director Aaron Marshall says they had funding for an interactive exhibit, but wanted to try something which would extend the condor education effort from the Zoo itself to people around the world.

Some of the mobile games biggest fans are those who work with the endangered condors on a regular basis. They see it as a way to share the bird’s story with the public, especially kids. Joseph Brandt, who’s Supervisory Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Condor Recovery Program, says efforts to save the condors are working. After the California condors near extinction in the 1960’s, and a population low of just 22 birds in the 1980’s, conservation efforts including a captive breeding program have helped the numbers bounce back to more than 400.

The hope is that the new “California Condor” mobile game will further the public’s understanding of the conservation efforts. “Condor Country” is free and available online through the Google Play and the I-Tunes App store.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.