At the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, officials have been closely watching two pairs of California condor’s who have laid a total of nine eggs since January. With two recently hatched, keepers are saying it’s only a matter of time before the rest begin to hatch in the coming weeks.
“Each new egg is critical to the California condor’s comeback,” said Kelli Walker, the zoo’s lead condor keeper.
The history of the California condor has been a perilous one. The species has come close to the point of extinction and was one of the first animals added to the 1973 Endangered Species Act. In 1982, the condor population plummeted to about 22 individuals left in the wild. Conservationists soon took action and in 1987 collected the last remaining condors and put them in captivity as a last-ditch effort to save the species from extinction. Since that time, the breeding program has been a success, bringing the population up to around 450 with most based in the wild.
The California condor still faces an uphill battle. Accumulated lead poisoning – which can be found on the fragments of bullets left on animal carcasses – pose a great risk to the species when they unknowingly ingest it. While Oregon Zoo has been working to fix this problem by working with hunters to raise awareness about choosing to use non-lead ammunition, conservationists say more work still needs to be done.
Still at the Oregon Zoo, 63 chicks have been born since 2003 with 43 being released back into the wild. With these two new arrivals, staff at the Jonsson Center are excited to see what the rest of 2018 brings for the species.
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