Condor Chick Makes Debut

Created: 2013-03-12 20:17 EST

Category: World
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Wesa was hatched on February 24, 2013, making it the first California condor chick of the season at San Diego Zoo.

Wesa means celebratory drink in the language of the Chumash, a Native American peoples from the California region.

The chick has maintained a healthy weight and has quite an appetite, eating up to 15 mice daily.

Wesa's sex is not yet known, but an upcoming blood test will determine whether it is male or female.

Ron Webb, a San Diego Zoo Safari Park senior condor keeper, has been rearing the chick using a puppet.

[Ron Webb, Senior Condor Keeper]:
"The puppet is like a fancy glove. It covers our hands so the chick does not get any beneficial experiences from people. We do not want it imprinting on people or getting used to us when it goes out into the wild. We want it to be a nice, wild animal, not relying on people for food."

Wesa is a part of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's highly successful California condor breeding program.

When the program began in the 1980s, there were only 22 condors left in the world.

Since then, the Safari Park has hatched 173 chicks and released more than 80 birds into the wild.

Today, there are over 400 condors, half of which are flying free in Baja California, Mexico, California and Arizona.