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Baby Condor’s Feet Bandaged to Correct Its Splayed Legs

From Associated Press

A tiny gauze bandage was wrapped around the feet of a newly hatched California condor in an effort to correct the chick’s splayed legs, the San Diego Wild Animal Park said Friday.

The condition would be a hindrance to the bird if allowed to became permanent but is not considered a serious problem, said park spokesman Tom Hanscom.

The same problem occurred in an Andean chick born at the park and was successfully corrected by a gauze strip, he said.

“What we do is hobble the chick’s legs. This simply entails tying the leg above the feet with a strand of gauze” that prevents the legs from spreading out to the side, Hanscom said.

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The gauze was placed on the bird Thursday and will remain in place for three days.

Molloko, the first of the endangered species to be conceived in captivity, is otherwise in excellent health, Hanscom said.

Keepers are using a hand puppet built to resemble an adult condor to feed the chick. Molloko consumes 15 diced baby mice during each feeding.

The splayed-leg condition occurs in chicks that are raised on a hard surface or, as with Molloko, on a towel, Hanscom said. They are unable to gain traction as they attempt to stand, unlike condor chicks in the wild that move on sandy surfaces.

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Because the chick’s bones are still soft and the joints have yet to set, the condition would become permanent if not attended to, he said.

Keepers could correct the problem by placing the bird on sand instead of a towel, but that approach would be dangerous.

“Many birds raised on sand die of sand impaction,” Hanscom said; they eat the sand, which blocks the intestine.

The hatching April 29 of Molloko raised the known California condor population to 28.

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