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Zoo welcomes first California condor egg of season

Jan. 31, 2023, 10:06 a.m.
Topic: Conservation and species recovery, Arrivals and departures
Overhead view of a condor egg in a nest box

Condor recovery efforts are off to promising start at zoo's wildlife conservation center

The first California condor egg of 2023 arrived at the Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation this past weekend, and keepers hope to see more over the coming weeks. 

The egg arrived Jan. 29 to condors No. 492 and 432. This is the pair’s third year together, and they’ve hatched and raised two previous chicks. The birds are taking turns incubating their newest egg, and if all goes well, it should hatch in March.

“We’re looking forward to another successful season,” said Kelli Walker, the zoo’s senior condor keeper. “There are only about 500 California condors in the world, so every egg is important.” 

Fourteen condor pairs are currently living at the conservation center, Walker noted, and every pair has raised at least one chick before. That’s good news for the recovery effort.

“Like any parents, they benefit from a little practice, so it’s great that all of the pairs have experience hatching and raising chicks,” she said. “We’re monitoring the nest areas and will be checking the eggs to make sure they’re developing correctly.” 

The California condor was one of the original animals included on the 1973 Endangered Species Act and is classified as critically endangered. In 1982, only 22 individuals remained in the wild and by 1987, the last condors were brought into human care in an attempt to save the species from extinction. Thanks to recovery programs like the Oregon Zoo’s, the world’s California condor population now totals around 500 birds, most of which are flying free.

The Oregon Zoo’s condor recovery efforts take place at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, located in rural Clackamas County on Metro-owned open land. The remoteness of the facility minimizes the exposure of young condors to people, increasing the chances for captive-hatched birds to survive and breed in the wild.

Upgrades and new equipment at the center have been made possible through continued support from the Avangrid Foundation and donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation, which supports the zoo’s efforts in advancing animal well-being, species recovery work and conservation education. To contribute, go to oregonzoo.org/give

More than 108 chicks have hatched at the Jonsson Center since 2003, and more than 73 Oregon Zoo-reared birds have gone out to field pens for release. Several eggs laid by Oregon Zoo condors have been placed in wild nests to hatch.

California condor breeding programs are also operated at San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Idaho. For more information, visit oregonzoo.org/condors.