First Captive California Condor Hatches Outside of the State of California
29 May 1996A California Condor which hatched today (29 May 1996) at The Peregrine Fund's headquarters, the World Center for Birds of Prey, represents the first egg of this endangered species known to have hatched outside of the State of California since the 1930s when a small population of condors still occurred in Baja California, Mexico.
It also marks the first successful breeding of condors at the World Center, where ten pairs of this rare species are housed. The World Center captive population consists mostly of immature condors just now reaching reproductive age.
Among the World Center condors, the parents of the chick, Tecuya and Shasta, are the oldest pair (12 and 6 years old, respectively), and this is their first fertile egg. Last spring they laid for the first time producing two infertile eggs and a third infertile egg was laid earlier this year.
Four other pairs of condors also laid at least one egg each at the World Center this spring, but all were infertile. Peregrine Fund biologist Cal Sandfort explained, "California Condors and other long-lived birds of prey frequently do not copulate successfully the first time they attempt to breed, especially if both birds are young and inexperienced."
In 1995 Tecuya and Shasta's second infertile egg was replaced by a fertile Andean Condor egg obtained from the National Zoo. The Andean Condor is a similar large vulture species from South America. The pair successfully hatched the Andean Condor egg and raised the young condor. Sandfort noted that, "The pair's excellent success at hatching and rearing the Andean Condor last season gave us the confidence to leave their own egg with them this year. Otherwise, we would have taken the egg and hatched it in an incubator and hand raised the hatchling California Condor using a puppet."
Last week another pair of World Center condors that had been provided with a fertile Andean Condor egg hatched their foster young. Both young condors and their parents can be viewed at the World Center's visitor center on video monitors.
California Condors are also being propagated at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Los Angeles Zoo. The young condor at the World Center is expected to join other young from the two zoos and be released to the wild in Arizona or California later this year as part of an overall recovery program for the species being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The Boise-based Peregrine Fund is a 26-year-old, non-profit conservation organization that conducts a wide range of projects nationally and internationally, focusing on birds to conserve nature. It is best known for its success in restoring the once highly endangered Peregrine Falcon throughout much of the United States.
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