Denver Zoo welcomes rare condor chick

Condor Chick
Denver Zoo's first Andean condor chick, a male, hatched on May 13, 2007, is shown with a parent. Andean condors are endangered in the wild and only one other chick has hatched in the past year in zoos throughout the world. David Parsons / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Denver Zoo has a newly hatched Andean condor, only the second condor to hatch at a zoo anywhere in the world over the past year, zoo officials said Thursday.

The Denver condor, a male, hatched May 13. He and his parents are the zoo's only condors.

Andean condors are an endangered species and came close to extinction in the 1970s, the zoo said. There are estimated to be only a few thousand of the giant birds in the wild, while 74 live in captivity in North America.

When Denver's new condor matures, he will either be taken to another zoo for breeding _ most likely in Europe or South America _ or if he's a good candidate, he may be considered for a program in Colombia that releases the birds into the wild, Denver Zoo spokeswoman Ana Bowie said.

A mature condor has a wingspan of 11 feet and stands about four feet tall. They generally grow to about 30 pounds and can live up to 50 years.

The Denver chick weighed only one-half pound when it was born but has already grown to nearly five pounds.

Both parents incubated the egg and cared for the newborn, which is in the species' nature, the zoo said. Both will likely care for the chick during its first year or two of life.

Condors are native to the Andes Mountains in western South America. They are a national symbol for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.