Wednesday 18 September 2019

This slightly terrifying puppet is being used to raise condor chicks

It looks silly, but it seems to work.

California condors are an endangered species (left, Oregon Zoo, right, SumikoPhoto/Getty)
California condors are an endangered species (left, Oregon Zoo, right, SumikoPhoto/Getty)

By Taylor Heyman, Press Association

A condor chick whose parents abandoned it is being raised for release into the wild by an eerie-looking puppet.

The chick, known as number 909, was left by its parents after 18 days. When they didn’t return after a further two days, keepers at  Oregon Zoo’s Jonsson Centre for Wildlife Conservation stepped in.

In order to keep the chick from interacting with humans, it is being fed by a puppet which looks like an adult condor.

“We only help like this when we have to,” said Kelli Walker, the zoo’s lead condor keeper.

“There are so few of these birds in the world that each new chick is incredibly important to the recovery of the species.”

“We try to keep human interaction to a minimum,” said Travis Koons, who oversees the zoo’s bird population.

“We use the puppet to deliver a bowl of food to the chick twice a day, and we’ll continue to do that until it can feed itself at about five to six months old.

After this time, the puppet-reared chick will join other chicks of its age at the Jonsson Centre’s pre-release pens for a year and a half before being released into the wild in California, Arizona or Baja Mexico.

California condors are an endangered species.

In 1987, the wild population of birds was down to just 22. These birds were taken into captivity and became part of a breeding project which led to the birds being reintroduced to the wild in 1992.

There are now more than 460 of the birds in the wild.

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