MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Two Californian condor chicks have hatched at a Mexican zoo, the first of the highly endangered birds ever bred in captivity in the Latin American country.
The chicks are being fed by vets wearing gloves that are made to look like adult condors, part of a program at Mexico City's Chapultepec Zoo to save the species.
"They are very important," Juan Arturo Rivera, General Director of Zoos and Wildlife for Mexico City, told Reuters.
"Soon they will be moved for a rehabilitation process so as to be able to introduce them to their natural environment in the Pedro Martir Sierra in Baja California."
With a wingspan of 9.5 feet and weighing up to 25 feet, the California condor is the largest flying bird in North America.
The endangered species nearly became extinct in the 1980s but has since seen its numbers increase through conservation and re-introduction efforts.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the total California condor population, including those in captivity and in the wild, was 435 last year.
Breeding condors in captivity is a lengthy process. Rivera said Chapultepec zoo's two adult condors hit it off from the beginning making the breeding program a quick success.
"Once they are partnered then the first stage could take two or three years," he said of adult condors.
"The success of Chapultepec Zoo is that when they were put together they bonded very well from the start and the following year we had these two eggs."
(Reporting By Reuters Television; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)