Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


National Zoo Celebrates Arrival of Whooping Crane

After an 88-year-long hiatus North America’s tallest bird, the statuesque whooping crane (Grus americana), is once again on exhibit at the Bird House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.

An 11-year-old male whooping crane named Rocky left Homosassa Springs State Park in Florida and is now on exhibit in the nation’s capital. Whooping cranes are one of only two crane species native to the United States. There are only eight other zoos in the U.S. which exhibit these birds.

“It is an honor for the National Zoo to once again exhibit this magnificent species,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park. “Although most people have heard of whooping cranes, very few have had the privilege of seeing one in person. We are thrilled to have Rocky here as an ambassador for his species.”

Rocky is only the fourth whooping crane to call the National Zoo home. The Zoo’s first crane, a wild-caught bird of unknown sex, arrived in 1897. Its last, a female, died in 1923.

By 1938, hunting and agricultural expansion had decimated wild whooping crane populations to an estimated 21 individuals. Zoos, research centers and nature preserves acted quickly to curtail the threat of extinction. Working together, they carefully matched individual birds that did not have mates in order to stabilize populations and achieve the greatest genetic diversity possible—a considerable challenge, given the population bottleneck.

Today, U.S. whooping crane populations are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to the 2010 census, 407 whooping cranes reside in breeding centers and protected nature reserves in the eastern and mid-western United States and Canada, while another 167 individuals are in human care. These numbers mean that their population trends are increasing, an encouraging sign that the species will thrive.

“Their remarkable population recovery and subsequent reintroduction is one of the greatest conservation stories in North America,” said Ed Bronikowski, senior curator at the National Zoo. “Thanks to the continuing efforts of many, this species is not going extinct anytime soon.”

Despite this progress, whooping cranes are still considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In breeding centers and zoos, whooping cranes can live upwards of 40 years old. In protected nature reserves, however, a whooping crane’s lifespan is limited to about 30 years. Collisions with fences and power lines, illegal hunting, predators, disease and polluted waterways threaten these cranes.

Visitors can see Rocky in the “Crane Run” exhibit outside of the Bird House. He is 5 feet tall and has a plume of white feathers, save for a patch of red and black feathers between his beak and the nape of his neck. He also has a 7-foot wingspan, which these cranes use to propel themselves 45 miles per hour during flight. Rocky will serve as an educational ambassador for his species, illustrating the behavior of whooping cranes to scientists, keepers and Zoo visitors. However, there is one trait visitors will not see Rocky perform: the loud “whoop” call these birds are named for.

“We don’t know why Rocky is mute,” says Sara Hallager, biologist at the Zoo’s Bird House. “The reason behind his silence is a mystery known only to him.”

The Zoo currently has no plans to breed Rocky, but his genes will not go to waste. He will participate in a study by the Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute that determines the impact of genetic diversity on whooping crane sperm quality and fertility rate in captivity.

Lindsay Renick Mayer | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>