New hatchlings at Oregon Zoo are condor-able: 'Assisted hatches are rare, but they happen'

California condor chick - Photo from the Oregon Zoo

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Zoo is welcoming its newest family members as seven California Condor chicks are expected to hatch through the early Spring.

The California Condor is considered “critically endangered” and was one of the first animals included in the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

Since March, five of seven eggs have hatched in the Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation. The final two are expected to emerge from their eggs sometime soon.

Zoo staff said they had to help one of the babies, now called OZ07, when it couldn’t break through its shell.

After using a bright light to see if the chick was moving inside the egg, senior condor keeper Kelli Walker determined that the bird was stuck.

“Assisted hatches are rare but they do happen,” Walker said. “If a chick isn’t hatching on its own for whatever reason, we work with our vets to help the process along.”

Walker and a vet cut OZ07 out of the shell and kept it overnight for observation. They then put the chick back inside an infertile egg shell.

“If we put the chick straight back under the parents with no egg, it’s confusing for them,” Walker explained. “So, we have to pretend a little. We actually save shells from infertile eggs for this purpose.”

OZ07 is the 69th chick to hatch at the conservation center since 2003. So far, the zoo has reared 42 birds that have been sent to field pens for release.

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