4 min read

People Just Spotted A Very Special Little Surprise Inside This Cave

Can you guess what type of animal this baby is?

What just hatched out of an egg on a nature preserve in California has people very excited. 

That's because this little chick's species was almost totally wiped out until people came together in a massive effort to help save them.

Critically endangered condor chick hatched in California
Joseph Brandt/USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

Very recently, the California condor almost went extinct; the population was down to just 22 individuals in 1981. Because the population was so dangerously low, scientists took some eggs from wild condor nests in 1983 to hatch them in captivity and ensure their survival.

Then, through captive breeding, people were able to sufficiently increase the population of this fascinating-looking bird to let them fly free in the wild again.

Now several protected sites on natural preserves are home to the condor — and the first chick at one of these preserves just hatched. 

"Wind Wolves Preserve is excited to share the first California condor chick on the Preserve!" the preserve wrote on Facebook on Friday. "New parents #369 (male) and #483 (female) appear to be doing an excellent job, and a healthy chick, about a week old, was observed on May 2nd ... We have high hopes that over the next five months, the chick will grow, develop, and fledge (leave the nest)." 

Adult California condor
This is what the little chick will look like once he grows up. | Shutterstock

Even though condors are making a comeback — there are currently over 227 condors in the wild today — they still face the same threats that nearly led to their extinction. "Shooting and accidental poisoning continue to be the principal threats to condors," the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) wrote.

Critically endangered California condor
Critically endangered condor flying over Big Sur, California | Shutterstock

When hunters use ammunition containing lead, the condors can accidentally ingest scraps that can poison them. There are efforts to ban lead ammunition, especially near where the condors are now living in the wild, but this can be difficult to enforce everywhere. Even though it's theoretically preventable, lead poisoning from ammunition still kills so many birds, including bald eagles. And a recent study shows that over 90 percent of condors released in Arizona test positive for lead. In 2010, three critically endangered condors were found dead because of lead poisoning.

Condor chick hatched in preserve in California
Joseph Brandt/USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

Hopefully the hatching of this new condor chick will help people understand just how essential it is to keep habitats safe — the actual existence of this species, and so many others, depends on it. 

To welcome this little chick into the world, you can make a donation to the Wildlands Conservancy, which oversees the Wind Wolves Preserve.