Memphis Zoo Hatches First West African Black Crowned Cranes

To help reduce trade in crowned cranes, ICF and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) have been partnering with zoo associations around the world to promote sustainable breeding of captive populations (learn more about the African Crane Trade Project).  As part of our collaboration with the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, we were thrilled to hear about the successful breeding of a 31 year old wild-caught Black Crowned Crane female at the Memphis Zoo (right).   ICF, EWT, and the Wetlands International/International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Crane Specialist Group commend the efforts by the staff at the Memphis Zoo and send our congratulations and thanks for their dedicated efforts to breed this valuable bird.

This is a genetically important birth within the crane community, due to the fact that the mother of the chicks is a “founder.” A founder is the first in a genetic line. This means that her genetics were previously unrepresented in the zoo population.

“This is a very significant breeding,” said Carol Hesch, Assistant Curator of the Memphis Zoo. “It took years of hard work and patience, and we’re very excited.  Since early on, they’ve been great parents, I can’t praise them enough for the excellent job they’ve been doing.”

West African Black Crowned Cranes are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. There is an estimated population of 15,000. In the wild, ranging from Senegal to Chad in West Africa. They are vulnerable due to their habitat loss and capture for domestication.