Bit of feel good news out of California where an endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) found in Pinnacles National Park received a helping hand from veterinarians to remove an aluminum can stuck to its beak which was preventing the condor from eating and drinking.
KBSW reports on March 30, biologists working for the Ventana Wildlife Society saw condor 943 on a remote video camera feed with a can stuck to its beak. On April 17, condor 943 was safely trapped at the park by wildlife specialists so they could provide treatment to the animal. The can was removed and the condor was able to eat and drink again.
During a medical examination, a blood test concluded the condor also had lead poisoning. The condor was treated for the lead poisoning by veterinarians and zookeepers at the Oakland Zoo and was released back into the wild nearly a month after he was trapped. Pinnacles National Park used this incident to remind visitors about the dangers of littering at the park.
Biologists at @Ventana_WS noticed Condor 943 with a can stuck to his beak.
Staffers at @PinnaclesNPS were able to remove the can but detected high levels of lead, so he was brought to Oakland Zoo for chelation treatments.
As you may know, California condors are critically endangered. There are only around 300 of these gigantic birds living in the wild, which means every individual matters. Biologists at Pinnacles closely monitor every condor in central California to help them thrive in the wild!
This close observation means the crew can help condors affected by life-threatening situations. Recently, 3-year-old condor 943 was saved from a terrible fate thanks to the collaboration and quick response of the Ventana Wildlife Society, Pinnacles National Park, Oakland Zoo, and the Monterey Avian & Exotic Clinic.
On March 30, biologists working for Ventana Wildlife Society were watching their remote video camera feed when they noticed condor 943 arrive with something on his face. On closer inspection, they saw he had an aluminum can lodged around his lower beak, holding his mouth open and making it impossible for him to eat. They watched helplessly as he flew away from the area, carrying his tragic accessory with him.
Over the next few weeks, the Ventana and Pinnacles condor crews anxiously waited for 943 to return to an area where he could be trapped. As the days wore on, everyone was losing hope that he would be caught before he became too weak to fly.
However, on April 17- almost 3 weeks after he was first seen with the can- 943 entered the trap at Pinnacles and was caught! Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief when the can was finally removed and he was able to eat, drink, and preen his feathers again.
However, the relief was short lived- a blood test revealed that in addition to the trauma of the can lodged on his face, 943 was also suffering from lead poisoning. Thanks to the veterinarians and zookeepers at the Oakland Zoo, 943 was successfully treated. He was released back at Pinnacles nearly a month after he was trapped!
Working with a critically endangered species means witnessing a lot of unhappy endings, as condors in the wild are still frequently dying from lead poisoning. However, getting to see 943 fly free after all of the efforts to save his life balances out the difficult moments.
If you see 943 flying around the park, make sure you wish him luck and let him know that you will pick up all the trash you find when out hiking in condor country!