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Giants of Big Sur: California Condor Stories

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Ventana Wildlife Society and House of 8 Media Presents ‘Giants of Big Sur: California Condor Stories’

“Giants of Big Sur: California Condor Stories” a 3-part series, [1hr TRT] that had a local premiere on December 10th, 2022 at Lighthouse Cinemas.

Documentary Written & Directed by Ross Thomas

Produced/Cinematography by Mike Buffo




The upcoming documentary “Giants of Big Sur: California Condor Stories,” highlights one of California’s native birds that face imminent threat at the hands of various environmental factors. With video production by House of 8 Media, the viewer has an inside look at day to day life for those helping these birds fight for survival. Watch as Ross Thomas learns more of this disappearing species, with the help of wildlife conservationists, to gain a better understand of the recovery effort being made by our local community to preserve the future of the California Condor.

As the ongoing threat of extinction persists for the California Condor, Wilderness Documentarian, Ross Thomas shadows the Ventana Wildlife Society as they work toward full recovery of this endangered species in the wilderness of Big Sur, California.

Join Ross as he traverses the rugged terrain of Big Sur, investigates the environmental threats these giant birds face, and learns what Ventana Wildlife Society is doing to save this critically endangered species. Filmed and produced by Mike Buffo of House of 8 Media, this informational documentary gives viewers an inside look at the consistent care and expertise required to protect critically endangered species. Follow along with wildlife conservationists, as they uncover the truth behind the rapid disappearance of the Big Sur ‘Giants’ and provide their expertise to better understand the life and death of the California Condor.



An Inside Look at the Critically Endangered California Condor


The “Giants of Big Sur,” more commonly known as the California Condors, are the largest land bird in North America. In 1987 this large winged vulture faced extinction in the wild, with all free condors captured and reintroduced to their new, controlled habitats. Since the reintroduction of the California Condor to the central coast in 1997, this majestic species now resists the ever-present threat of extinction. Ventana Wildlife Society and their partners have helped the condor make great strides in their journey towards full recovery in the wild, however, threats to their very existence persist.




Wild condors struggle to survive on their own due to a variety of environmental factors, with lead poisoning causing the highest mortality rate for these beautiful creatures. The large bird still faces predators in the wild, both humans and animals, further threatening its survival. With the unpredictability of natural disasters and abundance of fires in recent years, it is difficult to guarantee a safe home for the condor species. Ventana Wildlife Society breaks ground on the recovery effort in Big Sur, California to save this endangered species from complete extinction.


The 3-part, 1hr documentary gives viewers an inside look into the tremendous effort required to protect the endangered condor. Learn about the majestic species and meet the people instrumental in preventing extinction for the California Condor.



Want to make an adventure-documentary with Ross and Mike? Get in touch with us here:



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Thank You to Everyone Who Made This Series Possible


Ross Thomas - Writer / Director

Michael Buffo - Producer / Cinematographer / Editor

Jules Hart - Video Editor

David Herring - Sound Engineer

Justin Zheng - B Camera Operator

Blair Black, As It Is Films - Condor Recovery Program Logo Animation

DeWolfe Music Library: Timothy Whitelaw, Erik Wollo - Music

Ventana Wildlife Society Staff
Kelly Sorenson - Executive Director

Joe Burnett - Sr. Wildlife Biologist, Condor Program Manager

Mike Stake - Sr. Wildlife Biologist, Non-lead Outreach

Alena Porte - Education and Outreach Manager

Cathy Hamilton - Office Manager

Meredith Evans - Communications Coordinator

Laura Harris - Grant Writer / Facilitator Guide

Thank You For Making All of This Possible
Financial or In-Kind Support by:

David and Lucile Packard Foundation

California State Parks

Tim Huntington /

Amy Wells, DVM and the Avian & Exotic Clinic of the Monterey Peninsula

Trucksis Enterprises

Thanks to our Condor Recovery Partners:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Oakland Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo

Oregon Zoo

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

The Peregrine Fund

Special Thanks
California Dairies for assisting the condors' transition to the wild with clean food, cattlemen and other landowners in condor range who steward the land

*Especially to every hunter and rancher that have switched to using non-lead ammunition