When an Argentinian farmer named Edgardo found an injured baby condor on his land, he decided to nurse the creature back to health. And, heartwarmingly, the rancher did all that he could to ensure the bird would thrive in the wild. Little did he know, though, that the condor would eventually return.
The Andean condor is the biggest flying bird on the planet when its wingspan and weight are both taken into account. And as the vulture’s name suggests, it can typically be seen in the Andes mountain range – although it is also known to dwell along the western Pacific coast of South America. In many countries on the continent, then, the Andean condor serves as a national emblem.
Yet while the bird may be revered across South America, its prestigious status hasn’t prevented it from potential extinction. Indeed, both habitat loss and, as a side effect of hunting, secondary poisoning are named as major threats to the scavenger’s existence. And unfortunately, the Andean condor is now deemed as “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
When it comes to protecting the future of the Andean condor, then, every single life matters. And perhaps as a result of this knowledge, when a ranger called Edgardo found an injured young condor on the balcony of his home in Loncopué, Argentina, he took it upon himself to nurse the bird back to health.
What’s more, while the condor in question had an injured leg, his ailment was thankfully not life-threatening. It was also believed that the bird may have somehow become separated from his parents. In the wild, you see, young condors usually stay with their moms and dads until they reach two years old.
And since Edgardo’s condor was estimated to be only five months old, he wasn’t ready to go it alone in the world. So, the farmer christened the bird “Condorito” and dedicated himself to rehabilitating his charge, ready for release.
Luckily, though, Edgardo had previously cared for two condors, and so he knew that looking after Condorito would require a careful balance of supervision and restraint. After all, while assisting the bird in his recovery was vital, too much human contact could have endangered Condorito after his release.
For months, then, Edgardo nursed Condorito in his return to health while keeping the creature at arm’s length. He even enlisted the help of nearby wildlife groups to ensure that the care he was giving the condor was appropriate. And, sure enough, the bird began to make some progress.
Eventually, though, it was time for Edgardo to teach Condorito how to search for food. In the wild, condors are scavengers and consume the dead bodies of animals such as cattle and deer; the farmer would therefore have to source some carcasses in order to tap into the bird’s instincts.
At first, then, Edgardo began leaving big hunks of meat around his ranch to encourage Condorito to search for them. And after that, when some of the animals from Edgardo’s farm had passed away, he decided to leave them on his land and allow the condor to feed on them – as the bird would do in the wild.
And, all things considered, Condorito was shaping up to be a pretty perfect condor. He knew how to look for food on his own, for example, and he was also doing pretty well with his flying skills. So, it wasn’t long before Edgardo felt that the time was right to finally set the condor free.
But Condorito’s release was not the end of the story. How so? Well, in 2017 Edgardo told Argentinian newspaper LM Neuquén that the bird had seemingly not forgotten him. “[Condorito] continues to appear, but less and less – which is what we expected,” the farmer revealed.
And in a video of one of Edgardo and Condorito’s encounters, the bond between the two is clear to see. The footage sees the bird casually strolling up to his savior with his enormous wings outstretched. In turn, Condorito is greeted with a warm “hola” from his farmer friend.
After that, Edgardo crouches down so that he can pet Condorito on his back and chest. To the untrained eye, at least, it appears that the bird is quite enjoying the attention he’s receiving, and he stands dutifully still as Edgardo speaks to him in his native tongue.
The video then continues in much the same way – until Condorito tries to bury his head in Edgardo’s chest, that is. The farmer is actually reluctant at first to allow the bird to get closer. Eventually, though, he lets his guard down and accepts the condor’s advances.
The clip subsequently comes to an end just after Edgardo turns to the camera and shows it a happy thumbs-up. As he does so, meanwhile, Condorito nestles under his arm while softly pecking at the rancher’s clothes. And at this point, the bond between the bird and his old buddy is undeniable.
There’s little wonder, then, that the clip of Edgardo and Condorito soon went viral. In fact, the video has now been watched over a million times across social media. And some of the people who have come across the footage have their own tales involving appreciative wild animals.
Writing on Facebook, Amanda Hunter revealed, for instance, “I took care of a few geckos who were hurt and dazed in my yard in Arizona. They always came out and said ‘hi’ to me once in a while when they were going through again. I knew it was them cause they’d wait there for me and crawl on my hand.”
Meanwhile, praising Edgardo, Sandra Guillot wrote, “What a beautiful story. Animals don’t forget kindness. You’re a nice man to have taken the time to care for the condor. It does my heart good to see a human help an animal. Thanks for caring.”
It’s not known how often Condorito has flown back to see Edgardo after those first initial visits. However, Andean condors are capable of living for many years, with the oldest recorded bird of the species having died at the age of 79. So, with that in mind, Condorito and Edgardo could well be at the start of a very long friendship.