San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park has welcomed its first chick of the season into its California condor breeding program. Fans of the California Condor will be able to watch this little chick grow on the park’s popular condor cam which can be seen here – Condor Cam.
Proud parents Sisquoc and Shatash laid the egg on February 13. All was not well though with keepers sensing that the embryo was sitting in the wrong position. Keepers refer to this as a “malposition.” While it should have been sitting with its tail at the pointy end and its head sitting in the air sack at the bottom, it was upside down.
Keepers took it to the Harter Veterinary Centre where it was radiographed and this theory confirmed.
Keepers were able to fix this by drilling a hole at the large end. The weight of the chick’s body then caused it to break through the air cell membrane. It then had more space at the small end where its head was located. This meant keepers could allow the chick to hatch on its own.
On April 9 keepers were excited when the chick finally “pipped” (broke through the shell). This meant it could return to the parents who had been incubating an artificial egg. Shatash and Sisquoc didn’t notice the difference and incubated it through to a full hatching on April 11.
Dad Sisquoc was the first California condor to ever hatch in captivity. He was conceived in the wild to wild parents from whom the egg was taken. He broke out of his shell on 30th of March 1983 and made the national news.
Shatash the mother came from Los Angeles Zoo where she was hatched. Her father was the first condor conceived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 1985. Sisquoc and Shatash have been a couple since 1993. In this time they have produced seventeen chicks six of which they have been responsible for parenting. The others have been raised by keepers using a condor puppet so they wouldn’t imprint on humans.
Sisquoc and Shatash will both play a role in feeding the chick and defending the nest as the chick grows up.
California condors were on the road to extinction in 1982. Only 22 birds remained in the wild. Now with work by numerous organisations there are over 430 of these birds.
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo Safari Park