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Rare California Condor Poisoned By Lead Recovering At Oakland Zoo

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- A rare California condor is recovering nicely at the Oakland zoo after being brought in with alarmingly high levels of lead.

"She's poisoned.  She has this toxin running through her body.  Ultimately this toxin will kill her," Oakland Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Andrea Goodnight said,

Last week, researchers in the Pinnacles National Park captured Miracle and discovered during a routine examination that the lead levels in her blood were extremely high

There are many sources of lead in the wild, but one theory is she may have eaten spent ammunition.

"Say a hunter goes out, makes a kill or thinks there's a kill made, and the animal is just wounded and runs off. The birds are really good at finding those animals because that's their job," Dr. Goodnight said.

The Oakland zoo has a new condor care facility.  Miracle is the first condor to be treated there.

The California condor is a critically endangered species.  In 1987 there were only 22 left in the wild.  Today that number is still only about four hundred.

Miracle's wing tag shows she is number 38.

"We're giving her a drug that binds up that lead and allows her body to excrete it through her kidneys," Dr. Goodnight said.

The doctors are being very careful with the very rare bird.

Doctors say that in about a week, they will take another blood sample to see how Miracle is doing. They hope to release the condor, one of the world's rarest birds, back to the wild within the month.


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