Honoring Rob Horwich – Pioneer in Costume Rearing

We are deeply saddened to share the news that Dr. Rob Horwich has passed away. Rob lead pioneering work for the International Crane Foundation in crane behavior and captive rearing, and was responsible for developing the costume-rearing technique that has become the hallmark of our Whooping Crane reintroduction efforts. Rob’s efforts are featured in the film “Raising Crane” that was shown at the International Crane Foundation’s headquarters for many years.

Claire Mirande, Director of Conservation Networking, noted fondly, “Rob was working with the International Crane Foundation during my first summer as Curator in 1984. To try to film rutting deer he put on a deer costume, and the deer actually approached – and (I believe) threatened him. This gave him the idea to incorporate a costume into our puppet rearing to “disguise humanness” while using the puppet (and crane calls) to properly imprint the cranes.  This was a stroke of genius.  People thought we were nuts, but look at how much his insight has influenced rearing of cranes and also other birds.”  Click here to read a vintage 1986 The Bugle article featuring the debut of Rob’s costume-rearing technique for crane reintroduction.

Rob also founded and directed Community Conservation Inc. based in southwestern Wisconsin. He was a catalyst for community-led conservation projects with 200 communities in 14 countries covering 1.5 million acres — always focused on the belief that local people are the best stewards of their land.

We honor Rob’s lasting contributions to conservation and his generous, kind-hearted life.