A tiny California condor chick is poking its way out of its shell and hopefully into history as the first of the nearly extinct birds ever produced in captivity, San Diego Wild Animal Park officials said.

Keepers are occasionally tapping on the shell and playing tapes of the sounds that occur naturally in a condor nest to encourage the tiny chick to break out."The little bird thinks the parents are outside," park spokeswoman Martha Baker said Wednesday.

The baby condor was the object of a round-the-clock vigil at the park's "condorminium" because it "represents the best if not the only chance of saving this species from extinction," said park spokesmen Tom Hanscom.