California condo chick hatched, reunited with parents at San Diego Zoo

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A California condor chick that went through a difficult hatching was back in the nest with its parents Friday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The hatching required a little human help and some subsequent monitoring, according to animal care staff.

"The egg was expected to hatch early on March 31, but on April 1, the egg still had not hatched — over 96 hours after it had originally pipped, or started to hatch,” said Ron Webb, senior bird keeper at the park.

"We were able to safely retrieve the egg from the nest, but it was immediately obvious that this egg needed assistance,” Webb said. "Unfortunately, the embryo was coated in a yellow, sticky, foul-smelling fluid that was causing the sand substrate in the nest to adhere to the embryo and shell.”

He said the parents did their job of clearing broken shell out of the embryo’s way, but cleaning the caked sand proved to be very difficult for them.

Animal care staff removed the egg from the parents and replaced it with a dummy egg, and worked to provide the challenged chick with emergency medical care and assistance in hatching.

Due to its weakness and the possibility of complications, the chick remained under 24-hour care and feeding for several days before being reintroduced to its parents Thursday.

"We also left portions of an eggshell and wet the chick’s downy feathers with water, to give the appearance of a newly hatched bird,” Webb said.

"A few minutes later, the mother, Shatash, came back into the nest and saw the chick,” Webb said. "Thirty minutes later, after some persistent begging from the chick, Shatash fed her chick for the first time.”

Safari Park staff said they named the chick Ackaw, a Chumash word meaning "to succeed,” to honor the challenges it experienced at the beginning
of its life.

Ackaw can be seen on the San Diego Zoo Global website through its live condor cam, at

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