California Condor Being Treated at Oakland Zoo

The endangered bird is suffering from lead poisoning.

This bird will be released back into the wild after treatment. (Photo Credit: The Oakland Zoo via BCN)
This bird will be released back into the wild after treatment. (Photo Credit: The Oakland Zoo via BCN)
The first California condor to be treated at the Oakland Zoo in a new veterinary program two years in the making arrived Thursday suffering from lead poisoning, zoo officials said.

The condor -- recovered in Pinnacles National Park on Wednesday -- is recovering in the Steve and Jackie Kane Condor Recovery Center receiving chelation therapy until her blood levels are once again lead free, according to the zoo.

The zoo has been working with the Ventana Wildlife Society's field biologist and Los Angeles Zoo staff over the last two years to enable it to care for the birds as part of the California Condor Recovery Program.

Previously, all sick condors would have to be moved to Los Angeles for treatment but after Oakland joined the program in 2012 the condor recovery center was constructed and condors found closer to Oakland now have a shorter trip.

"While we never like to see sick or lead poisoned birds, today is really a fantastic day for the Oakland Zoo because the zoo's Condor Care Team is now able to put their skills and special training into helping save this magnificent bird," Oakland Zoo associate veterinarian Andrea Goodnight said.

Once the condor is lead-free, she will be released back into Pinnacles National Park where she has been nesting with her mate.

She was hatched in Big Sur on May 5, 2007.

California condors have been bolstering their numbers since the remaining 26 condors were brought into a captive breeding program in 1987. Under the supervision of the Ventana Wildlife Society there are now 232 condors in the wild, zoo officials said.

The birds acquire lead poisoning through spent ammunition, but California is working to phase out lead in hunting ammunition through a law signed in 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The endangered birds weigh approximately 20 pounds and have a wingspan of nine-and-a-half feet.

--By Bay City News


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