Nature’s garbage man

Sheldon Campbell, a one-time trustee of the San Diego Zoo, closed a 1984 essay about the California condor with this:

I would like to end with a short poem written by first grade students in a California school. It was among the thousands of congratulatory messages we received after the first condor hatching:

++++++++++Dear San Diego Zookeeper:

+++++++++++++++We’re happy that your condor hatched
+++++++++++++++We hope some day it will be free
+++++++++++++++We know it’s nature’s garbage man
+++++++++++++++And the Earth needs more than three.

I immediately thought of this poem when, while searching for artifacts related to the California condor, I encountered this item for sale:

01 American Lafrance Condor

Through the years, the name “condor” has been applied to aircraft, automobiles, bicycles, boats, motorcycles, and a variety of trucks. But there is something especially fitting about applying the condor name to a noble garbage truck.

(I will consider other vehicles named after the condor in a future post.)

Campbell, Sheldon. Restocking the wilderness with captive-bred animals: the California condor story. In Wilderness: the way ahead. Vance Martin and Mary Inglis, editors. Findhorn. 1984.