Bum

Having an Andean condor at the San Diego Zoo in 1929 seems rather remarkable—and Bum was a remarkable bird!
  • 1920s
  • 1940s

Bum was quite a character. He had been hand raised, so he was used to people and even liked to “play” with keepers, following them around and attempting to pick their pockets or pecking at their shoes to try to untie their shoelaces. Bum had a nine-foot wingspan and sharp beak and claws, however, so the humans had to watch their step.

Bum’s favorite person was his keeper, Karl Ring. The two had a favorite game: Karl would lie down on his back and Bum would hop up to stand on his chest, wings spread wide. A vulture perched on a prone human was perhaps a macabre sight—but that appealed to Karl’s quirky sense of humor, and he chuckled at the exclamations from visitors as they came upon the scene.

In 1934, Bum was paired with a mate from Ecuador. She was not nearly as friendly as Bum and hissed and charged at the keepers, but she and Bum got along famously. The two took up residence in the Zoo’s Birds of Prey aviary, and on July 8, 1942, they hatched a chick that was later named Guaya, the first Andean condor to hatch in a zoo. Then Zoo director Belle Benchley described seeing the chick at three months old for the first time as “a dark mass of something that, as we watched carefully, suddenly resolved itself into a monstrous downy bird…. This was one of the most exciting moments we have had in the zoo for a long time….” And Bum proved to be a doting dad, to Guaya and other chicks to follow.

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