Whooping Crane / Grus americana
One of the Whooping Cranes at the Calgary Zoo Ranch, seen when a group of us had the privilege of visiting two days ago. Tremendous work is being done there to breed several very endangered species, especially the fascinating Whooping Crane. These birds are kept in enclosures and any interaction with the staff is done using white "Crane costumes". The Whooping Crane's lifespan is estimated to be 22 to 24 years in the wild. Many thanks to Crane Keeper, Dwight Knapik for showing us around for the afternoon and filling us with interesting information.
In 1985, the Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre (DWCC) opened. Known as the "Zoo Ranch," this land south of Calgary is home to the breeding facilities for the endangered Whooping Cranes, Vancouver Island Marmots, Przwalksi wild horses and Zebra.
"The only remaining flock of wild Whooping Cranes, the wintering population in coastal Texas, reached a low of 15 birds in the winter of 1941-42, and hovered between the low 20s and mid 30s over the next two decades. Efforts to locate the flock's breeding grounds intensified following World War II. Evidence of breeding was first reported in 1954, when several adults and pre-fledged juveniles were observed in Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) in Northwest Territories, Canada. Researchers were able to locate the first nests the following year. The inaccessibility of the breeding grounds, protection of the wintering grounds, and extensive public education campaigns have contributed to the population's increase to its current level."