Sulu, the newest California condor chick, was hatched Thursday afternoon at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, officials said.
The name for the tiny, ungainly chick was taken from an East Pomo Indian word for condor. It was assisted by keepers from its shell shortly before 2 p.m., bringing to a close the 1990 condor breeding season at the Wild Animal Park.
Sulu becomes the 39th condor chick to survive in captivity--including 20 at the Wild Animal Park and 19 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The chick was the fourth condor to be hatched at the Wild Animal Park this year, officials said.
No California condors are living in the wild.
"It's been the best condor hatching year in decades," said Jeff Jouett, a spokesman for the San Diego Zoological Society. "If the remaining egg in Los Angeles hatches unharmed, it will make eight new condors this year. Nobody expected that many."
The condor has been on the Endangered Species list since the government began collecting such statistics in 1972. "Arguably, since the advance of Lewis and Clark, the condor numbers began to decline in the West," Jouett said.
Keepers said the newest condor appeared "healthy and vigorous" as it rested in an incubator. Described as a fragile creature with a pointed head, perhaps because of its unusual, football-shaped shell, Sulu was to be weighed late Thursday night.
"It just about fills the palm of your hand," Jouett said. "It's bald, with big eyes and a big beak. Some people say it's ugly. But ugliness is in the eyes of the beholder."
The sex of a condor cannot be immediately determined upon birth.
The proud parents were identified by keepers as mother Adult Condor 8 and father Adult Condor 5.