TUSAYAN, Ariz. - The Grand Canyon's National Geographic Visitor Center and IMAX Theatre cares about condors, so much so that they've started an adoption program. For the plush variety that is.
Since September, the Visitor Center staff has adopted out 212 condors and plans on continuing the program for at least two more years.
For $12, visitors can purchase a condor plush toy from the gift shop, with a portion of each sale going to the Peregrine Fund. With the condor comes a birth certificate so they can name their condor.
So far, the Visitor Center has raised $1,000 to help with condor conservation.
"We wanted to continue with donating so we came up with this idea after the bird show stopped," General Manager Janet Rosener said. "Once it's run its course, we'll think of something else to support the Peregrine Fund."
The Visitor Center encourages those who purchase a condor to take it into the park with them, take some pictures and share them on Facebook or on the Visitor Center website.
Along with the Peregrine Fund, the Visitor Center started Project Noah, a program designed for schoolchildren to get more out of their Grand Canyon experience. The program began around the same time as the Adopt a Condor program in hopes of expanding the sources available for school groups.
"We have two missions, one is the general mission for the Grand Canyon, so if they see anything interesting at the Canyon, they can take a photo of it and send it directly to the Project Noah site," Rosener said. "Our second mission is for the condors. We try to encourage them to try and capture a picture of a condor."
If the students don't know what they took a picture of, Project Noah can help them identify it.
"It's also good for teachers, they can get a lesson plan that they can take back to the classroom," Rosener said.
More information about Project Noah can be found at www.projectnoah.org.