PITTSBURGH (AP & WCN Staff) — The first Andean Condor chick to be hatched at a bird zoo in Pittsburgh since 2007 is dead, a few days after it hatched.
The National Aviary said Monday the male condor, Lurch, had been seen removing the chick from the nest on Sunday, two days after it hatched.
Andean condors are the world’s largest flying birds, with wingspans of about 10 feet (3 meters). They typically lay one egg a year.
Aviary officials say the female condor, Lianni, has produced four previous chicks, and three were released into the wild. They posted the news about the chick on the National Aviary’s website on Monday.
“The first 48 hours after hatching are a critical time as both parents and chicks establish their instinctual care behaviors and routines. Our animal care and veterinary teams have been monitoring the parents and the chick very closely throughout this time. Both parents and the chick were exhibiting normal behaviors and had optimal conditions for success. This outcome was very unfortunate and unpredictable but is not uncommon during this delicate stage. The entire staff of the National Aviary is deeply saddened, but we remain hopeful for the future of our condor breeding program. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we mourn this loss.
Lurch and Lianni are part of a larger breeding program embedded in a network of zoos participating in the Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP is charged with maintaining a sustainable, genetically diverse population. In addition to the condor, the National Aviary participates in SSP programs for 60 at-risk bird species.
Students enrolled in the Tweetspeak Cluster at Westminster have spent time studying the Andean Condors at The National Aviary. They discovered the Andean Condor SSP efforts support research, conservation and the reintroduction of these birds into the South American Andes. However, any offspring from Precious and Lurch will remain in captivity—to support the SSP’s in-zoo population strategy. The Andean Condor population in zoos and aviaries is declining. National Aviary ornithologists stressed the current population has dropped to 75. That’s fallen below a stronger wild condor population. In Ecuador alone, the condor population is estimated at 80.