Visitors to ICF May See Rare Hooded Crane Chick

Wasabi and Belmont
Hooded Crane chick Wasabi (left) and foster parent Belmont are currently on exhibit at ICF. Photo by DZ Johnson

Media contact: Cully Shelton, ICF Interpretive Program Manager, (608) 356-9462 ext. 114

A Little Wasabi Goes a Long Way

Baraboo, WI – Wasabi, a rare Hooded Crane (Grus monacha), hatched at the International Crane Foundation (ICF) on June 6, 2014.  But even before that, its journey was a colorful one. Eggs produced by ICF’s captive flock are either destined for release into the wild – like those of Whooping Cranes – or play an important role as captive breeding birds to protect wild cranes for future generations.

Both of Wasabi’s parents are genetically valuable because they are offspring of wild Hooded Cranes, known as founders. With fewer than 30 individuals currently in Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facilities, their genes are extremely important to the long-term health of the species.

A participant in AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), Wasabi’s biological mother, Kashe, was stimulated to lay multiple eggs. As soon as an egg appeared in her nest it was removed, and within a few days she produced a replacement. Eggs incubated by birds develop into much healthier chicks than those incubated mechanically, so the egg was given to a pair of Whooping Cranes, then to a pair of Siberian Cranes, who cared for the Hooded Crane egg, keeping it at the perfect temperature and rotating it to ensure the chick was positioned correctly for the important job of hatching.

Finally, just before it began to break through its shell, it was given to Belmont, a female Hooded Crane with great parenting skills.

She will raise the chick, teaching it to find food and water, recognize potential danger, preen, and identify as a Hooded Crane. By helping to incubate the egg, and raise the chick, each crane has contributed to the long-term survival of wild Hooded Crane populations. Visit Wasabi and Belmont, currently on exhibit at ICF, which is open every day through October 31, 2014 between 9 am – 5pm.

Founded in 1973, ICF is a non-profit conservation organization committed to the wetlands, watersheds, and flyways on which cranes, other biodiversity, and people all depend. Learn how you can support ICF’s work by becoming a member today!

ICF is open daily April 15 – October 31, 9am – 5pm and is located at E11376 Shady Lane Road between Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells. For more information please visit www.savingcranes.org or call 608-356-9462 ext 121.