For decades field biologists, researchers and animal care staff were the only people able to witness the development of a California condor family. Now viewers around the globe will be able to watch the growth of a condor, from caring for the egg to rearing the hatched chick, via the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Conservancy’s online Condor Cam. This rare glimpse has only recently been available for public viewing with the hatching of the Condor Cam’s very first star, Saticoy, in 2012.
More than 600,000 visitors watched Saticoy on the website’s Condor Cam, and many read blog updates as he was released into the wild in November of 2013. Since his release, Saticoy has been observed perching and roosting in trees with other condors and field biologists have confirmed that he is doing well and integrating seamlessly into the wild.
Saticoy’s is a success story many years in the making. In the 1980s, there were only 22 condors left in the world. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has now hatched 181 chicks and released more than 80 birds into the wild as part of the California Condor Recovery Program. Having cameras in the nests has certainly played a part in the recovery programs success.
The cameras allow animal care staff to observe the natural behavior of the condor family and also keep a close eye on the newly laid eggs. As soon as the time is right, keepers replace the nest egg with an artificial one, placing the real egg in an incubator until fertility is confirmed. The egg is then placed back into the nest just before hatching without the condor parents ever knowing it was gone.
“Having these cameras in the nests has offered us invaluable insight into condor parenting behavior and it is from observing their activities that we know more about the best methods to prepare chicks for release into the wild,” said Michael Mace, curator of birds at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “As it turns out, the Condor Cam serves as a valuable research tool while also offering the public a view of one of the most endangered species on Earth.”
Animal care staff have confirmed that the first three eggs of the condor breeding season are fertile and the Condor Cam is now live here.
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The Conservancy makes possible the wildlife conservation efforts(representing both plants and animals) of the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.