The U.S. government has donated two endangered female California condors to Mexico City's Chapultepec Zoo for a new breeding-in-captivity program.

A U.S. Embassy statement says the zoo will begin raising the birds for eventual release into the wild. The goal is for Mexico to take over all aspects of breeding and reintroduction in the country.

The raptors once ranged from Canada to Mexico but nearly became extinct in the 1980s.

After an aggressive breeding program, about 400 are alive today including some 230 in the wild. One population is in the northern Mexican state of Baja California.

The U.S. ambassador, the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and senior Mexican officials held a ceremony Monday to celebrate the transfer and the 20th anniversary of a wildlife partnership.