OAKLAND -- A California condor named Ventana is the first to be treated for lead poisoning at the Oakland Zoo.
On Tuesday, Ventana appeared content sunning herself on her perch, fanning out her huge wings every so often as media visitors observed through a window in order to avoid stressing the giant bird.
Ventana arrived from Pinnacles National Park on May 1 after testing positive for lead poisoning and is now being treated at the zoo's new Steve and Jackie Kane Condor Recovery Center.
For the past two years, the zoo has been working with the Ventana Wildlife Society and staff at the Los Angeles Zoo to treat these endangered birds, of which only about 232 remain in the wild.
"We're really excited that we can help, but it's sad we still have to do it," Associate Veterinarian Andrea Goodnight said. "These birds are still threatened."
Much like vultures, hawks and eagles, condors are scavengers and carrion-eaters, often feasting on the carcasses of animals shot by hunters and ingesting the lead bullets.
Through conservation efforts, their numbers have grown significantly since 1987, when the last wild condor was taken into captivity to join the 27 that remained. In 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that phased out lead ammunition for hunting statewide.
California condors are the largest North American land bird, weighing up to 26 pounds with a wingspan of nearly 10 feet.
They are also one of the longest-living birds, with a life span of up to 60 years.
Ventana, or condor No. 444, was given her name because she's the oldest living wild-raised chick in the Central California flock, hatched in Big Sur in 2007.
Before coming to the zoo, she's been spotted nesting with her mate, No. 340, at Pinnacles.
"We have to figure out a way to get the lead out of the environment so we don't have to treat these birds anymore," Goodnight said.
The condor can be viewed on the zoo's webcam at www.oaklandzoo.org; click on "Video, Cams & More," then "Web Cams."