June 28th, 9:00am

Zion’s California Condors

The California Condor is THE feel-good story of animal conservation. Like the bald eagle, the condor is a scavenger, making it prone to the DDT chemical, and susceptible to lead poisoning from a hunter whose bullets are left in their game. At one point, the condor population was down to 22 in the entire world. Now, through the efforts of conservationists, their population has grown back to 237 in the wild and 200 in breeding programs, as of May 2013.

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Photo courtesy of Erik Trautman

The Zion community has been enthralled by two nesting condors and a brand new chick, conveniently nested on a cliff side just outside the Human History Museum in the park! Condors breed every other year, so to spot a nest is very rare. But news this week makes the future of the chick uncertain. Unfortunately, daddy condor suffered from lead poisoning, and was found dead. While this doesn’t spell out certain doom for the family, it does make the mother condor’s job that much harder. Typically, father and mother condor would take turns looking for food to bring to the chick. Wildlife rangers in the park are discussing options, like leaving meat for the mother to find, to increase their chance of survival.

We’ll watch and hope that this family continues to fight on!