The Grand Canyon wants travellers to stop leaving “love locks” on the park’s fences, warning that the trend is endangering animals.
The “love locks,” which have become a popular – and often overwhelming – trend around the world where travellers leave a small padlock as an eternal sign of their visit, pose a health risk to the Grand Canyon’s condors, according to a Facebook post by the National Park Service.
According to the post, the birds are curious animals and love shiny objects, and “much like a young child” will put any interesting object in their mouth (including discarded padlock keys).
“People think that putting a lock on a viewpoint fence is a great way to show love for another person. It’s not,” writes the National Park Service. “Leaving [padlocks] like this is littering and a form of graffiti. But because people will throw their padlock key into the canyon, the scenario becomes worse and more dangerous, especially for a rare and endangered animal of the canyon”.
Condors that eat inanimate objects, such as padlock keys or coins, may not be able to get past them on their own. They then need surgery to remove the obstruction and risk dying if they eat too many objects.
The Grand Canyon is home to the California condor, one of the rarest birds in the world, once nearly extinct and now listed as endangered, according to the NPS. The species is the largest land bird in North America, with a wingspan of up to 9 1/2 feet and weighing up to 23 pounds.
In 1982, there were only 22 California condors left in the world, according to the NPS. Today, there are nearly 500, with more than half considered wild.
There are currently three wild condor populations: in Arizona/Utah, California and Baja California.