A Successful end to a Great Breeding Season at the Wild Animal Park

Posted at 10:20 am June 27, 2008 by Bird Keeper

We are happy to say that we have come to the end of a great California condor breeding season here at the Wild Animal Park. Our last two eggs of the season have hatched, and all our chicks are healthy and growing.

Our sixth chick hatched this season needed a little keeper help getting out of its shell. We had noticed early on during development that the embryo was positioned incorrectly inside the egg. On day 54 of incubation, the egg was taken to the Harter Veterinary Medical Center, here on grounds, and was radio graphed to determine the position of the chick. The x-ray film confirmed that the chick in fact was positioned upside-down inside the egg and gave us a good idea of where the chick might first break the eggshell and start breathing fresh air.

When getting ready to hatch, chicks normally first break the shell, or “pip,” towards the rounder end of the egg. Since this chick was completely upside-down it actually pipped towards the pointier end. We monitored it around the clock for three days and observed that, even though it was very active and vocal, the chick had made no more progress towards hatching. At 72 hours from the time it had pipped, two of us keepers very carefully removed the eggshell from around the chick and excitedly welcomed it into the world. This sixth chick is named Awexa (say “ah-WE-ha”), which means “Bee” in Chumash. Awexa is eating and growing very well. This chick is being puppet-raised and will hopefully be released in Baja California, Mexico, along with its older sibling, Aqshwalaw, as well as Sitow and Yinci, our other 2008 puppet-raised chicks.

Our last egg of the season was placed back with its parents, Towich (condor No. 135) and Sulu (condor No. 52) after it pipped, and finished hatching (with Sulu’s assistance). This chick is named Sola (say “SO-lah”), which means “Soda” in Chumash. Towich and Sulu are very attentive parents and are doing a wonderful job raising their 5th chick hatched since they were paired together for the 2004 breeding season.

All of our new chicks are doing great, and they are keeping us keepers and their parents very busy. DNA samples have been submitted for our chicks to determine their gender. The next milestone for our chicks is to leave the nest and fledge. This happens at about 150 days old, depending on each individual and on the way each is raised. This has been an amazing season for our condors and their keepers; let’s hope it continues to be a great year.

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