California condors Sisquoc and Shatash welcomed a baby chick this week, in full view of the world watching them via webcam.
“With just over 400 California condors in existence, this endangered species is still an uncommon sight, making this hatching all the more significant,” San Diego Zoo Safari Park said in a news statement about the happy event. For only the second time, the zoo has given the public the opportunity to watch condor parents in action via its Condor Cam.
“We’re very pleased to welcome Sisquoc and Shatash’s chick and be able to share this incredible experience with everyone,” said Michael Mace, San Diego Zoo Safari Park curator of birds. “This rare experience of watching a condor chick is no longer for a select few. We invite you to watch this fantastic experience, the beginning cycle of a California condor’s life, from the egg until it fledges.”
The largest flying bird in North America, the California condor can glide on air currents as high as 15,000 feet. They feed on the carcasses of large mammals, such as cattle and deer. The loss of the great herds that once roamed North America may have contributed to their decline. Poisoning and illegal egg collection pushed them to the edge of extinction in the 1970s when their number fell to about two dozen.
Since a recovery program implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, zoos in the U.S. and Mexico, and U.S. and Mexican government agencies began in the 1980s, there are now more than 400 condors, half of which are flying free in California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico, according to San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The zoo has hatched 171 chicks and released more than 80 birds in the wild.