Oregon Zoo’s condor-hatching season rates a ‘10’ with conservationists: Each new condor is vitally important
Ten fuzzy California condor chicks are squawking in their nest boxes this summer at the Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation — the biggest batch yet in the zoo’s 18-year effort to save the critically endangered species from extinction.
“We have more chicks than ever this year, which is fantastic news for the recovery effort,” said Kelli Walker, the zoo’s lead condor keeper. “It’s a significant step forward for this critically endangered species.”
With scarcely more than 500 of these birds left in the world, each new condor is vitally important to the species’ survival, Walker said.
The chicks stay with their parents for at least eight months before moving to pre-release pens for about a year. Eventually, they will travel to a wild release site to join free-flying condors in California and Arizona.
The California condor was one of the original animals included on the 1973 Endangered Species Act and is classified as critically endangered. In 1982, only 22 individuals remained in the wild and by 1987, the last condors were brought into human care in an attempt to save the species from extinction.
Thanks to recovery programs like the Oregon Zoo’s, the world’s California condor population now totals around 500 birds, most of which are flying free. More than 80 chicks have hatched at the Jonsson Center since 2003, and more than 50 Oregon Zoo-reared birds have gone out to field pens for release.
Recent upgrades and new equipment at the center were made possible through a grant from the Avangrid Foundation and support from the Oregon Zoo Foundation’s $8.5 million Heart of the Oregon Zoo campaign, which is currently raising funds to support the zoo’s efforts in advancing animal welfare, conservation and education.