California Condor Chick Passes First Vet Exam at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego, California - After its first veterinary check-up on Monday, Saticoy, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's 6-week-old California condor, settled quickly back into the nest with a clean bill of health.

Safari Park keepers and veterinarians had their first opportunity to see the chick in person. Until today, the animal care team had only observed Saticoy through Condor Cam (www.sandiegozooglobal.org/video/condor_cam), just like the chick's loyal followers who have watched it, noting the growth of its secondary and darker feathers and seeing Saticoy increase in size.

Monday's health exam showed Saticoy's growth is on track. The chick now weighs 8 pounds and is about the size of a bowling ball. Its wing muscles look good. In fact, Condor cam viewers have seen Saticoy flapping its wings on a regular basis as it gains more strength in preparation for fledging at 5 to 6 months old.

Veterinarians administered a routine West Nile Virus vaccination to protect Saticoy from the disease, they inserted a small microchip similar to those carried by domestic dogs and cats for identification, and the team took a small blood sample to run a complete blood evaluation. The sample will also allow the genetics department at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research to identify whether the chick is a male or female. The results will take several days.

Twenty thousand people from as far away as the United Kingdom and France were logged on to Condor Cam on March 10, the day Saticoy hatched. This historic event marked the first time the public could experience what, for decades, only biologists and condor keepers were able to see: the hatching and growth of an endangered California condor in real time.

The chick's parents, father Sisquoc and mother Shatash, continue to care diligently for Saticoy, cleaning it, feeding it and keeping it warm. The chick's whitish gray down feathers are beginning to be replaced with darker secondary down feathers. Saticoy is more active now and can be seen by Condor Cam viewers playing with feathers, stones or other items the adult condors leave in the nest.

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 174 chicks and released more than 80 condors in the wild. Today, there are approximately 386 condors, more than half of which are flying free in California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico.

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 work of the Conservancy includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts at 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. In addition, San Diego Zoo Global manages the Anne and Kenneth Griffin Reptile Conservation Center, the Frozen ZooTM and Native Seed Gene Bank, the Keauhou and Maui Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Centers, San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Breeding Facility, Cocha Cashu Biological Research Station, the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, and a 800-acre biodiversity reserve adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

Additional information