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Sunday, June 23, 2024

In a milestone for critically endangered species, a child California condor has simply hatched in San Diego


The California condor — the biggest fowl in North America — went extinct within the wild in 1987

However a brand new bundle of pleasure has simply hatched on the San Diego Zoo, due to the conservation efforts of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. 

The start of this new chick marks the 250th egg to be hatched on the zoo. It was born to mother Mexwe, and pa Xol-Xol, the primary California condor introduced into human care beneath the California Condor Restoration Program in 1982.

A person holds a large egg, belonging to a California condor at the San Diego Zoo
Willis holds the egg containing Emaay. Picture courtesy of the Zoological Society of San Diego

When Xol-Xol was dropped at the zoo, the inhabitants had dropped to a low of simply 22 birds, making this milestone — over 40 years later — particularly thrilling. 

“Reaching this milestone feels unbelievable,” Nora Willis, senior wildlife care specialist on the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, mentioned in a press launch

“Seeing the success… of the California Condor Restoration Program as an entire is admittedly inspiring. There’s nonetheless a protracted option to go however being a part of this and serving to the species get well is life-changing.”

The chick, whose intercourse shouldn’t be but decided, has been named Emaay (pronounced “eh-my”), a Kumeyaay phrase for “sky.” 

Earlier than hatching, Emaay (the egg model), was positioned in an incubator to be intently monitored by a care crew. The egg was additionally taken to a close-by medical middle for a CT scan after a short concern for “malposition,” however was given a clear invoice of well being and returned to Xol-Xol and Mexwe for hatching.

A large egg belonging to a California condor sits in a CT scan machine
The egg is scanned for malpositioning. Picture courtesy of the Zoological Society of San Diego

Wildlife care staff monitored infrared cameras across the clock, because the proud mother and father welcomed Emaay into the world from the privateness of their nest. Emaay was born on March 16, however simply made their debut with a “exhausting launch” announcement practically a month later. 

Underneath the restoration program on the zoo, Xol-Xol has fathered 41 chicks since 1993 — lots of which have been reintroduced to their native habitat. Emaay is anticipated to affix them in 2025.

In accordance with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, there are actually roughly 275 free-flying condors in California, Utah, Arizona, and Baja California — and the conservation work of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has undoubtedly performed a task on this ongoing restoration. 

“The resurgence of the California condor is a conservation success story,” the zoo shared in a press launch. “At the moment, there are greater than 560 dwelling California condors, with over half free flying.”

A baby California condor sits beside its parents
Child Emaay is caught on an infrared digicam shortly after her hatching. Picture courtesy of the Zoological Society of San Diego

The Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature lists the fowl species as Critically Endangered, with populations growing. Nevertheless, main threats to their survival embody lead poisoning, habitat loss, and rising illnesses, exacerbated by local weather change. 

Past the San Diego program, there are 4 different reintroduction websites within the U.S., working to make sure these birds can return to their native habitats in Northern Arizona, Massive Sur, Redwood Nationwide Park, and Los Padres Nationwide Forest

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance additionally works with companions in Mexico to revive the California condor inhabitants within the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir Nationwide Park in northern Baja California, Mexico, the place condors lived till the mid-Nineteen Fifties.

Tribal governments have additionally been integral within the preservation and reintroduction of California condors, just like the Yurok Tribe in Northern California.

Cross-partnership conservation efforts between tribal nations, the federal authorities, and conservation organizations just like the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance are important to the way forward for the species. 

Two California condors fly in the sky
Two California condors within the wild. Picture courtesy of Gavin Eammons/NPS

In accordance with the Yurok Condor Restoration Program, they “endeavor to reestablish an apex scavenger that has been absent for greater than a century, restore the stability and biodiversity that existed previous to Euro-American colonization of the area, and promote a thriving ecology for the good thing about wildlife and people.”

As threats to the species proceed, these dwelling in areas the place the California condor flies freely ought to observe from a distance to restrict human disturbance when encountering the birds on public lands. 

That being mentioned, if you happen to do spot one within the wild, you’ll be able to at all times go to condorspotter.com to see who it’s.

And if you happen to’re too far to see them within the sky, you’ll be able to at all times take a look at the zoo’s Condor Cam — and perhaps even catch a glimpse of child Emaay.

Header picture courtesy of the Zoological Society of San Diego

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