Condor takes another step towards the wild at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Calafornia condor cam star, Su’nan has finally fledged and left the nest.

Su’nan first left her nest and flew to the tallest perches in her enclosure on October 17. This means it took 172 days for her to leave the nest. The zoo’s earliest fledgling this year was at 123 days old meaning Su’nan is a bit of a late bloomer.

Keepers say this late development is okay though. Su’nan has a healthy set of feathers and is a good weight at 7.3kg (16 lb).

On October 23 keepers made the decision that Su’nan was ready to leave home. While wild Californian condors stick around for up to 18 months with their parents. At the Safari Park though the condors will either not breed in the next year or will attack the last chick if they do. As the park runs a breeding program for these critically endangered animals it is important they can breed in peace.


To allow this to occur the fledglings move to a socialisation pen a mile away from the main Safari Park so they can be socialised and learn to live like condors.

Every condor born at the zoo is raised as a release candidate meaning they may return to the wild. The California condor recovery program is run by the US Fish & Wildlife Service who will till the zoo which of the fledglings will be released into the wild.

The keepers need to be very careful with each of the chicks to ensure they do not associate humans with good experiences. The keepers only see them to move them to the socialisation pen at which point they affix a wing tag, to do a pre-shipment exam and for their West Nile immunisation. Apart from this food is delivered through a chute in the wall, the pool is drained and rinsed from outside and all other maintenance occurs with no interaction. This means they have a better chance to survive in the wild.


The socialisation pen

Another important part of their survival is the training provided by the two adults in the pen, Cachuma and Xananan. Condors are highly social and these two will show them the rules of group interaction. The parents begun this process but these two will finish the job. These two birds are the dominant pair in this area and the fledglings need to be able to compete with these birds.

Their pen provides room to flap their wings and has many places to roost. There are also pools in which they can bathe. Su’nan is the subordinate member of the group but as she has more experience it is expected she will become part of the group. She flies around the pen and interacts with the older birds.

This year, the first time ever, people will be able to witness the goings on in the socialisation pen. Normally condor cam is just for an egg hatching through to the fledgling but from November 2 people will be able to watch the socialisation of Su’nan.

You can watch condor cam here-

Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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