BOISE, Idaho May 2, 2013 – A tiny California Condor chick that emerged from its shell today marked a major milestone for The Peregrine Fund. It was the 200th chick to hatch in the conservation group's captive breeding facility since joining the effort to breed endangered condors in 1993.
The captive breeding facility at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey is home to 62 condors, the world's largest flock of captive condors. This year, 18 pairs produced 20 eggs. When the chicks are about 9 months old, they are transferred to The Peregrine Fund's release site near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, where they join the wild flock, which currently numbers 72 birds.
"We are thrilled to reach the 200 mark," said Marti Jenkins, who oversees the condor propagation program. "Every chick takes us one step closer to saving this magnificent species from extinction."
The Peregrine Fund works closely with three other facilities – Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and Oregon Zoo -- that raise California Condors. This year, two of the eggs produced in Boise were placed in the nests of wild condors in California to replace eggs that were not viable. Both eggs hatched and are being reared by their wild foster parents. A third egg was transferred to the Oregon Zoo and also hatched successfully.
"We will be sending at least one more egg out to replace one from a wild nest in California," Jenkins said. "Such swaps promote genetic diversity in a small population and enable this program to be as successful as possible."
The recovery program is conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The captive breeding process bolsters wild breeding numbers, Jenkins said. This year, Peregrine Fund biologists have observed six wild condor pairs exhibiting incubating behaviors in the rugged canyonlands of northern Arizona.
An intensive condor recovery program began in the early 1980s when the continuing decline of the condor population required drastic measures. By 1982, only 22 condors remained on Earth. The last birds were brought into captivity to launch a breeding program. The first releases to the wild occurred in California in 1992. The Peregrine Fund began raising condors in 1993 and releasing them to the wild in 1996.
Today, there are more than 400 California Condors, with more than half of them flying free in the wild in Arizona, California and Baja, Mexico.
For more information about The Peregrine Fund's condor recovery program, visit our Facebook pages
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