Taronga Zoo’s Bird Keepers are celebrating the hatching of a very precious Andean Condor chick.
The parents Connie and Bruce are the only breeding pair in Australasia. To ensure the safe hatching of the chick, the keepers swapped the real egg for a fake one to allow them to observe the development and maximise breeding opportunities.
“Our bird keepers monitored the egg daily, including candling the egg regularly to ensure that the egg was healthy and had good vein development. Then on the 9 December, a strong and healthy chick pushed her way out of the egg,” Bird Show Supervisor, Matthew Kettle, said.
After a thorough veterinary health check which gave the chick a clean bill of health, the youngster was swapped with the dummy egg back into the aviary to be with her parents. Both parents took her sudden arrival in their stride and the chick is doing very well. At the last weigh in, the chick had already gained 1500 grams since hatching.
It is hoped that the female, who is yet to be named, will eventually be transferred to another Zoo or wildlife institution to take part in an international breeding program for this threatened species.
“Although Andean Condors are in decline, they have a wide distribution and therefore considered to be doing OK in the wild. Many vultures species in Africa and Asia are critically endangered and on the brink of extinction. Our new chick, together with her parents and siblings, are ambassadors for their species and are helping Taronga Zoo to educate our visitors about the plight of vultures,” Matthew said.
The Andean Condor originates from South America’s Andes Mountains. They are a type of vulture and it is common for this species to soar hundreds of kilometres, hours at a time, in search for food. Vultures do not hunt and kill their own prey but rely on flying great distances in search of carcasses and, by eating them, help stop the spread of disease, leaving us with healthy wildlife populations.
The chick is the sixth successful hatchling for parents Connie and Bruce. Her siblings, Konira and Leslie, can often be seen in Taronga’s QBE Free-flight Bird Show, which helps to support bird species around the world by contributing to important conservation partnerships and protecting vulnerable species.