The Los Angeles Zoo reports that is currently treating nearly two dozen wild condors for lead poisoning after they were captured by Fish & Wildlife officials. While the birds can live up to 80 years surviving on carrion, some of the birds brought in are only in their mid teens, according to animal keeper Michael Clark.
“We actually raised some of them way back when, and it is heartbreaking to see what has happened,” he remarked. “Their food is poisoned, so nothing can survive that.”
The poisoning, however, is not believed to be intentional, but rather the sad result of the birds eating the bodies of animals shot by hunters using lead ammunition.
"They look for bones as well while they're eating. If they encounter something hard, they'll eat it, including a piece of lead. Unfortunately, the resulting lead poisoning not only affects the scavengers’ autoimmune system, it often leaves them starving or paralyzed, added Clark.
To counteract the damage, the Zoo has given the condors injections and placed them on IV drips to stabilize their blood enough for them to resume their natural life back in the wild.
In the meantime, California Governor Jerry Brown has just signed legislation making it mandatory for hunters to use non-lead ammunition by 2019.