The wild Whooping Crane population has grown by two – thanks to the Calgary Zoo

Posted on July 16

The Calgary Zoo announced today that the number of whooping cranes in the wild grew by two, with the transfer of two, one-year old whooping cranes born at the Calgary Zoo.

“We’re so proud that these young birds were parent-reared at Calgary and recently released at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Wisconsin, led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. The cranes are continuing to acclimate to their new home, and we look forward to watching them migrate with this year’s new wild chicks in the fall,” said Calgary Zoo’s senior veterinarian and International Whooping Crane Recovery Team member, Dr. Sandie Black.

Currently the young birds, one male and one female, are visible roosting in upland areas near the refuge, much to the delight of visitors to the area. Partnership staff continue to monitor the pair to ensure their safety as the birds learn about their new surroundings. The duo were originally meant to be released in spring 2018, but obstacles with weather and international permitting meant the birds missed their narrow shipping and release window and instead spent their first year in Calgary.

Since the birds missed their first year in the wild, special care was given to the birds both in Calgary and at the Refuge to help them adjust to their new environment, such as helping to learn natural foraging behaviour and encouraging them to sleep in the wetlands at night for protection. Although they have missed their first year of migration, we’re hopeful that they will naturally migrate with the other cranes.

In the 1940s, only 21 whooping cranes remained in the wild – the result of widespread hunting and habitat loss. Dedicated conservation efforts have dramatically improved the fate of these endangered birds in North America. Today there are an estimated 686 of these majestic birds in the wild in four populations. The Aransas Wood Buffalo population is the only natural population and migrates between Canada and the United States. The three reintroduced populations are the Eastern migratory population and Louisiana and Florida non-migratory populations. Conserving this iconic species will protect other species that share its wetland habitat.Sponsored by ConocoPhillips, the Calgary Zoo is the only Canadian breeding partner in the whooping crane recovery effort, contributing whooping cranes for release into the wild since 1992.

About the Calgary Zoo: The Calgary Zoo is a globally recognized conservation organization that guides, innovates, and applies scientific solutions to restore some of the world’s most endangered species. Locally and globally we take action in the wild every day to yield powerful benefits for nature and for people. Our over 1,000 employees and volunteers are passionate about inspiring people to take action to sustain wildlife and wild places, welcoming over 1.3 million guests annually. As visitors discover the rare and endangered species that we love and care for at our facilities, they are directly contributing through admission and on-grounds sales to a not-for-profit charitable conservation organization that works to fight extinction of plants and animals worldwide.

- 30 -

Contact:
Alison Archambault
Director Marketing, Sales & Communications
Calgary Zoo
Phone: 403.232.7766 or 403.919.9482