- Created on Monday, 11 March 2013 21:30
- Written by Imperial Valley News
Escondido, California - The San Diego Zoo Safari Park got video today of the first California condor chick of the 2013 season. Animal care staff is overjoyed that, Wesa, which means celebratory drink in Chumash, hatched just two weeks ago and is growing by leaps and bounds at the Safari Park.
Wesa hatched to parents AC#4 and Mexwe, who have produced 9 eggs and 5 chicks together, many of whom have been released into the wild over the years at Bitter Creek Forest, north of Fillmore, California. Keepers report that Wesa has an extremely hearty appetite, eating up to 15 mice a day. The sex of Wesa is not known yet, but a blood test will be done 30 days from hatch to determine whether the chick is male or female. Wesa is currently being puppet reared at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
"The puppet is like a fancy glove," said Rob Webb, senior keeper, "It covers our hands so chicks do not get any beneficial experiences from people. We do not want it imprinting on people or getting used to us when it goes out into the wild. We want it to be a nice wild animal, not relying on people for food."
Keepers have said that Wesa gets a lot of sleep, which is needed by baby condors at this age to grow properly. However, Wesa can also be seen playing with a feather and other toys used for stimulation and enrichment while being puppet reared in the human isolate. Currently, Wesa is being puppet fed so that it does not become human dependent. After the puppet rearing, Wesa will be moved to an outdoor pen to learn from other condors and perhaps one day be released to the wild in one of California Condor Recovery Programs' condor release sites of Baja California, California, or Arizona.
Since the California Condor Recovery Program began in the 1980s, when there were only 22 condors left in the world, the Safari Park has hatched 173 chicks and released more than 80 birds in the wild. There are approximately over 400 condors half of which are flying free in the wild.
The California Condor Recovery Program is implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, zoos in the U.S. and Mexico, and U.S. and Mexican government agencies. Although listed by the federal government as an endangered species in 1967, the California condor population continued to decline, reaching a critical low of less than two dozen birds. In 1982, the condor breeding program was successfully established at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Los Angeles Zoo. Today, two additional breeding centers are assisting with the recovery of the species at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey and the Oregon Zoo. In addition, condors are part of an education program that allows guests at the San Diego Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo and Mexico City's Chapultepec Zoo to see North America's largest bird up close.
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The Conservancy makes possible the wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) of the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.