María Catalina Porras Peña

Field Program Coordinator

Catalina Porras serves San Diego Zoo Global in a consultant capacity as a Field Program Coordinator in Recovery Ecology. She has 18 years of experience working in the field with endangered birds in Mexico and Central and South America. Catalina has special expertise in the care, husbandry, and breeding of birds and has been an integral part of the California condor release program in Baja California, Mexico, since its inception in 2002.

Catalina is responsible for the care and management of condors prior to release, as well as monitoring birds after release, including radiotracking, behavioral data collection, and supervision of the field crew. Catalina and her team follow the movements of reintroduced condors using satellite telemetry to help locate nesting territories. She has been testing different types of GPS transmitters to come up with optimal designs for condors of different age and experience. She has given more than 40 talks to schools and special events for the condor outreach program.

Catalina studied Biochemistry Engineering at the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey. Her volunteer surveys of the maroon-fronted parrot in the mountains of Nuevo León led her to her first position with endangered birds at Fundación ARA, AC in Monterrey, Mexico. There she focused on dietary needs, breeding, and chick rearing of 98 species of birds. In 2010, she was honored with Mexico’s Conservación de la Naturaleza award. In 2014, she was given binational recognition from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Mexico’s Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales for her long term commitment and dedication to the recovery and conservation of the California condor in Mexico. Passion for wildlife conservation and recovery of endangered species are Catalina’s true love in life.

SCIENCE AT WORK