With only 22 of his kind left on the planet, there was a lot riding on Sisquoc’s arrival—and survival. Researchers had spent months out in the field, and painstakingly collected four eggs to be brought into managed care and incubated—all in the hopes of saving the California condor from looming extinction. So when the tiny chick emerged from his shell—healthy—at the San Diego Zoo’s bird breeding center, hope for the species was renewed.
Soon, the hatchling, named Sisquoc in honor of the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary, was peeping at a condor hand puppet. This surrogate parent had been created weeks in advance so the chick could be raised as naturally as possible and not imprint on humans. The next day, Sisquoc was placed in an incubator and driven from the Zoo to the Safari Park, where keepers would use the puppet to raise him.
But Sisqouc’s contribution to condor conservation was not finished. He has since fathered 17 chicks, including the most recent, Saticoy and Cuyamaca, who ended up pioneers in their own right. Saticoy was the first California condor chick to hatch while viewers watched on our Condor Cam; and Cuyamaca, the 2013 Condor Cam “star,” was named via a vote from her admiring audience. Both have been released into the wild, and are among more than 160 California condors flying free.