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First California Condor Chick Born in Utah

Jul 16, 2014 11:56 AM EDT

A new California condor chick is the first to hatch in the wild in Utah, an enormous feat since the species was reintroduced in northern Arizona in 1996, a team of biologists confirmed Tuesday.

Zion National Park is now home to the first wild-born California condor, a species that was literally poisoned and on the brink of extinction in the 1990s, The Associated Press reported.

Fewer than 25 condors existed when The Peregrine Fund began work to revive the population in northern Arizona and southern Utah.

"The birds have slowly expanded within what we would now assume to be their home range of about a 70-mile radius from the release site," Peregrine Fund Condor Project supervisor Chris Parish told FOX13.

Park officials announced the birth in June after the spotting the chick atop the 1,000 foot-tall nest.

Zion National Park is an ideal habitat for the California condor, with plenty of food and high cliffs to nest in.

The adult birds that produced the chick are first-time parents, making this hatching even more remarkable.

"We reproduce birds in captivity with pretty regular success, and we can release birds to the wild," Parish said. "But having parents rear those birds and hatch them in the wild, is by far the best situation, just like it is with any type of wildlife."

Biologists will continue to monitor the chick, which is expected to fly the coop sometime in November or December.

They are also hopeful that this birth is a sign that the California condor is ready to flourish once more.

"This may be the beginning of starting a resident population right here in the Zion canyon," added Zion National Park Chief of Natural Resources Fred Armstrong.

Still, the condor has yet to be reintroduced to the state of California, from which it gets its name. That's what the Yurok Tribe conservation group hopes to achieve in the next one to three years. They have been given permission by several wildlife agencies to return the great-winged California condor to its native lands of the Redwood Coast.

While the current nest's location is not being revealed, bird enthusiasts can see a condor chick that was hatched around the same time in the San Diego Zoo on their website.

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