A California condor has been brought to the Oakland Zoo to be treated for lead poisoning. The female known as Miracle is the first to be treated for this condition at the zoo this year. Her levels were so high that the test used by biologists in the field to measure lead levels could not register them.
Once she arrived at the zoo the Condor Care Team went to work x-raying and examining her. To remove the lead from her body she has begun chelation treatment which Andrea Goodnight, a vet with Oakland Zoo hopes, “will lead to rapid release back to the wild.”
In one to two weeks her lead levels should be low enough to be released back into the wild. While in care Miracle is staying at the Steve and Jackie Kane Condor Recovery Centre and can be viewed on the FedEx Condor Cam here – FedEx Condor Cam | Oakland Zoo
California condors in Pinnacles National park are caught semi-annually to check their lead levels. A law was recently passed that is phasing out the use of lead based ammunition throughout California by 2019.
Rachel Wolstenhome, Pinnacles Condor Program manager said, “When a bird’s blood levels are high, it’s critical for us to take them in for veterinary care.”
California condors disappeared from the wild in 1987 when the last one joined 26 others in captivity to begin a breeding program. It was so successful that some were released and the population has now grown to 232 in the wild.
Miracle was the first completely wild chick born in Big Sur California in over a century when she hatched on 23 May 2009. Executive director of Ventana Wildlife Society, Kelly Sorenson said, “Back then, it was a ‘miracle’ but now we know that condors can and will survive without our help as long as lead poisoning can be significantly reduced.” Miracle flies along a large portion of the Central Coast.
Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo