Cranes of the World Opens May 1 With Steps Taken to Protect Rare, Endangered Cranes From Avian Influenza

Red-crowned Crane exhibit at Cranes of the World at the International Crane Foundation

Media contact: Pamela Seelman, Marketing Communications Director, International Crane Foundation, 608-356-9462 ext. 120.

Cranes of the World at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, opens for the season on Sunday, May 1, with safeguards in place to protect rare, endangered cranes from Avian Influenza.

“Because we are seeing Avian Influenza in a broad diversity of affected species in Wisconsin, we’ve decided it’s best to move the Sandhill, Wattled, Siberian and Whooping Cranes back into their covered winter yards, as a preventive measure against virus transmission from visiting waterfowl,” explained Director of Conservation Medicine Dr. Barry Hartup.

The four crane species on exhibit reside in open-air enclosures. Their exhibits do not have top netting that acts as a ceiling, to prevent waterfowl from flying into their dwellings. Smaller waterfowl, such as ducks and geese are more prone to carry the virus and transmit it to other birds if they are in proximity.

“This removes nearly all chance of exposure to a virus that is manifesting quite differently in the U.S. compared to 2015, when Avian Influenza was last reported in Wisconsin. Taking this important step safeguards all our birds,” added Dr. Hartup.

Crane care staff are developing counter measures to deter waterfowl use of those exhibits. The foundation will move the four crane pairs back on exhibit as soon as the threat of Avian Influenza has passed. Like Covid-19, the Avian Influenza situation is fluid, as the 2022 bird flu variant is truly unknown, added Dr. Barry Hartup.

“Protecting our family of cranes is Priority One,” explained Chief Operating Officer Kim Smith. “We are an important breeding facility for some of the rarest birds on the planet and house close to 100 cranes, many endangered, who reside in our breeding facility called Crane City. Most of the endangered cranes in Crane City are Whooping Cranes, who still number only approximately 800 on the planet.”

Cranes of the World remains open, and visitors can take a guided tour or explore the exhibits on their own, seeing crane species from around the world. Guests also can enjoy beautiful hiking trails throughout our restored prairies, wetlands, oak savanna and wooded birding trail. Our new George Archibald Welcome Center, with interactive exhibits and a world-class gift shop, offers stories about our work across the world to conserve cranes and the landscapes they need to thrive. Guided tours are available on weekends at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The site is ADA accessible featuring beautiful photo opportunities, a picnic area, miles of groomed birding and hiking trails, paved paths, and free scooters and parking. The site is open from May 1 through Oct. 31. Learn more and plan your visit.