Chuck the Condor joins the Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have a new member on the team: Chuck the Condor, their new mascot. His number is 213, his area code, conveniently enough.

He was introduced during the halftime show in Monday’s game with the Brooklyn Nets, who kept the game close for three quarters.

A California condor in flight. (Wikipedia)
A California condor in flight.

As the Chuck story goes, the big bird convinced Clippers owner Steve Ballmer to sink a dunk. When Ballmer did he insisted Chuck give all the fans in attendance a gift — a pair of red Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers. Fans with ticket stubs got vouchers they could use on a special website to order their shoes.

The condor is an interesting choice, considering the Clippers are named for the sailing ships of past generations. It would have been expected had the team chosen a more nautical creature for its mascot. But the California Condor is an endangered species, and was actually extinct in the wild for several years. Through conservation efforts and captive breeding, they were re-introduced to the wild and have begun to prosper. But they are still a critically endangered species.

California condors have the largest wingspans in North America: just under ten feet. They’ve been known to travel as many as 160 miles in one flight and can glide for hours without flapping their wings. They can fly as high as 15,000 feet, which serves them well in the mountainous areas of the California and Baja California coastline and the mountains of the Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Travelers to the Grand Canyon can see them soaring above the Colorado River on occasion.

The California condor was an inspired choice for the Clippers’ mascot. It’s part of California’s heritage and it shows the owner has an eye for nature and conservation.

If you’re lucky enough to see one in flight, have a camera because they are still rare.

Claudia Gestro contributed to this article,
including the top photo of Chuck the Condor and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and the video below.