Endangered California Condor Chicks Hatch At LA Zoo

April 9, 2024 0 By JohnValbyNation

LOS ANGELES, CA — The Los Angeles Zoo recently announced the arrival of five new Angelenos — California condor chicks that have hatched in recent weeks. More of the endangered birds — the largest land birds in North America — are expected to hatch soon, the zoo announced Monday.

The first condor egg of the season was laid at the beginning of January — an early start to the season. Since then, 15 more have been laid and the first hatchling cracked through its shell on March 1; four more have hatched in the past two weeks, according to the zoo.

“Our condor pairs here are having a pretty epic egg laying season so far, and they are not done yet,” condor keeper Mike Clark said. “We are seeing excellent fertility in the eggs produced so far, and we expect 4 to 5 more eggs before the 2024 laying season is over.”

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The chicks are bred and reared at the zoo as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California Condor Recovery Program. They’re bred to be released in their native, wild habitat as part of a program that seeks to restore the population of the endangered birds.

In 1983 there were only 22 California condors left in the world. By December of last year, that number increased to 561 — with 344 of those living in the wild, the zoo said.

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The birds are threatened by habitat loss, pesticide contamination, consumption of micro trash, bird flu and — above all — lead poisoning from eating bullet fragments or shot pellets found in animal carcasses, the zoo said.

“The California Condor Recovery Program is a critical and highly successful component within the zoo’s conservation strategic plan,” said Jake Owens, the zoo’s director of conservation. “As a conservation organization, we are not only focused on saving endangered wildlife in far-off habitats around the globe, but also species that are right here in our own backyard. The last 30 years has confirmed that by breeding and raising condors into adolescents here at the Los Angeles Zoo, we are giving them the best chance of survival after their release into the wild.”

The California condor has a nine-and-a-half foot wingspan. Standing at three-feet tall, the birds weigh 17 to 25 lbs. They can fly at heights of 15,000 feet and travel up to 150 miles a day, the zoo said.

They’re like vultures and other scavengers, acting as a “cleaning crew” when they feed on carcasses of large mammals including deer, cattle, whales and seals, according to the zoo.

The condors aren’t on exhibit at the zoo, but guests can see them during Condor Spotting events, held daily (except Tuesdays) from 12:30 to 1 p.m.

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