LA Zoo welcomes 5 California condor babies, making for an 'epic egg-laying season' for the endangered bird

The LA Zoo welcomes five California condor hatchlings this week, a great feat for the endangered species (Photo credit: Los Angeles Zoo).

Five California condor chicks recently hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo, the first hatchlings of this breeding season for the endangered bird, and more are expected the zoo announced.

According to the announcement, the first egg was laid at the zoo at the beginning of January, marking an early start to the breeding period, and since then 15 more eggs have been laid. The first hatchling arrived March 1, with four more hatching in the past two weeks.

"Our condor pairs here are having a pretty epic egg-laying season so far, and they are not done yet," Mike Clark, the zoo's condor keeper, said in a statement. "We are seeing excellent fertility in the eggs produced so far, and we expect four to five more eggs before the 2024 laying season is over."

The chicks are bred and reared at the zoo as part of the state's Condor Recovery Program, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners across local, state and federal agencies, as well as indigenous tribes and non-government organizations.

All the offspring bred at the zoo are candidates for release into their native range, the zoo said.


The L.A. Zoo has housed California condors since 1967, when Topa Topa arrived as a malnourished fledgling rescued in the wild, zoo officials said.

By 1983, there were only 22 California condors left on the planet, so the Fish and Wildlife Service and the state's Fish and Game Commission agreed to create a captive breeding program for the species.

As of December 2023, there were 561 California condors in the world, with 344 living in the wild.

The zoo said the condor's population fluctuates daily as a result of challenges such as habitat loss, pesticide contamination, consumption of micro trash and lead poisoning from eating lead bullet fragments or shot pellets found in animal carcasses. In recent years, the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has become another threat.

"The California Condor Recovery Program is a critical and highly successful component within the zoo's Conservation Strategic Plan," Jake Owens, director of conservation at the L.A. Zoo, said in a statement.

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"As a conservation organization, we are not only focused on saving endangered wildlife in far-off habitats around the globe, but also species that are right here in our own backyard. The last 30 years has confirmed that by breeding and raising condors into adolescents here at the Los Angeles Zoo, we are giving them the best chance of survival after their release into the wild."

The California condor is the largest land bird in North America, with wings spanning 9 1/2 feet. Adult condors stand at around 3 feet tall and weigh 17 to 25 pounds. The species can soar to heights of 15,000 feet and may travel up to 150 miles a day.

Condors find their food mostly by their keen eyesight, similar to that of vultures and other scavengers. Condors feed on the carcasses of large mammals including deer, cattle, and marine mammals such as whales and seals.

While California condors are not on exhibit at the zoo, guests can catch glimpses by participating in Condor Spotting daily except Tuesdays from 12:30 to 1 p.m. at the picnic area next to the World of Birds Show.