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Bald is Beautiful for Andean Condor Chicks

Germany’s Potzberg Wildpark has been a hotbed of Andean Condor hatchings, and 2012 is no exception.  Two chicks hatched to parents Josephine and Napoleon in June.  A male hatched on June 2 and a female on June 28.  Since 2009, the pair has produced eight chicks.

When Josephine laid her first egg, she and Napoleon fought in the nest.  To avoid damage to the egg, zoo keepers separated Napoleon from his mate.  But once it came time to brood her egg, Josephine ignored it.  Keepers then removed the egg and incubated it artificially.

The Andean Condor chicks are growing fast.  About the size of a tennis ball at birth, the chicks grow to the size of a basketball by four weeks of age.   As adults, the males have a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet (320 cm) and weigh up to 33 pounds (15 g).  Adult female condors have deep red eyes.

In most birds of prey, it’s difficult to determine a hatchling’s gender, but with Andean Condors, it’s easy.  Males sport a comb on their heads, while females do not.  The chicks are hand fed every three hours and enjoy cozy indoor quarters, where keepers keep a close eye on them. 




Andean Condors are the world’s largest bird of prey.  They are native to South America’s Andes Mountains.  Human activity has reduced their range.  Andean Condors inhabit open, grassy areas and feed mainly on carrion.  They may travel more than 100 miles a day in search of food.

Josephine and Napoleon are each over 30 years old, but they have many years ahead of them.  These birds often live for 50 years or more. 

Successful breeding of Andean Condors in zoos is rare, so the offspring from the Potzberg Wildpark have been sent to other European Zoos to bolster the population.