Usually the poisoning is the result of lead fragments being ingested and then absorbed by the condor. In the case of our recent acquisition, preliminary X-rays showed the presence of actual lead pellets in the bird’s digestive tract.
Removing these before they are dissolved and absorbed would certainly help in the long run. Finding them inside the bird would not be so easy. Local vet Dr. Brad Rosonke, of Hillside Animal Hospital in Scottsdale, volunteered his skill and equipment in an attempt to remove the heavy metal pellets endoscopically.
Last Saturday the condor was taken to Dr. Rosonke’s clinic for more detailed X-rays and then prepared for the endoscopic procedure. Drs. Orr and Wyman assisted along with Jan and Dr. Rosonke’s technician as the thin fiber-optic tube was fed into the bird’s crop and down toward his stomach. Watching live TV images of what the scope was seeing, the vets carefully threaded the scope deeper and deeper into the bird. Several small rocks were found, but as these are harmless to him and a natural occurrence, they were ignored.
As the stomach was approached, a thick tangle of hair and other detritus was encountered which made finding the small lead pellets and fragments impossible.
This procedure is normally used to recover things eaten by dogs and cats, such as parts of shoes, toys, and coins. (There are things that condors eat that seem to inhibit this sort of exotic treatment!) The effort was noble, but now #207 is in line for large doses of Metamucil in hopes that he will pass the offending lead particles before they do more harm.