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Newest Condor Chick Is Seriously Ill : Outlook Bleak for Bird Hatched at San Diego Zoo Lab

Associated Press

A 4-day-old California condor chick, the latest of the rare birds to be hatched in captivity, is seriously ill and has been unable to hold down solid food, San Diego Wild Animal Park officials said Thursday.

The chick, named Malibu, is suffering from dehydration and an infection and is being treated with antibiotics, said Bill Toone, head condor keeper at the park.

“The chick is not looking good,” said Toone, describing the outlook for recovery as “extremely guarded.”

Since noon Thursday, Toone said, the bird has been lethargic and has vomited each time keepers have tried to administer either water or solid food.

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The bird is being injected with fluids to combat the dehydration, Toone said.

Born Monday in a San Diego Zoo laboratory, Malibu was transferred later that day to the park’s “condorminium.” The chick is being cared for in an infant care unit at the park, near Escondido in northern San Diego County.

Malibu was the second condor to hatch in captivity this year and the 12th since the March 30, 1983, birth of Sisquoc, the first of the critically endangered species to be born in captivity.

The chick’s birth raised to 18 the number of condors now in captivity at the Los Angeles Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, which is affiliated with the San Diego Zoo.

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Only nine condors are known to survive in the wild.

Biologists hope to save the dying species with a captive breeding program.

Malibu came from the last of three eggs taken this year from the Santa Barbara County nest of the only pair of mating condors known to live in the wild.

A condor named Kaweah hatched April 11 from the first egg, but the second egg failed to develop and the embryo was declared dead.

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Toone said there may be a genetic problem in Malibu’s family line.

He said that of the six eggs taken from Malibu’s parents over the last three years for artificial incubation, five hatched successfully but three of the chicks became ill, including one that died.

“There have been more than the fair share of illnesses in this family line,” Toone said. “It’s an indication of a genetic problem.”


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