Rare whooping cranes raised for wild as COVID rules relax

Louisiana News

Aurora, a 36-day-old endangered whooping crane chick created by artificial insemination and stepfather Peep stand in their enclosure at the Audubon Nature Institute’s Species Survival Center, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in New Orleans. Precautions against spreading COVID-19 kept any captive-bred cranes from being released in 2020 to a flock in Louisiana or one that migrates between Wisconsin and Florida. This year 14 – one more than in 2019 – are being raised, half of them at Audubon. (AP Photo/Janet McConnaughey)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Work to raise the world’s rarest cranes for release into the wild is back in gear. Last year, pandemic precautions all but halted captive rearing of endangered whooping crane chicks.

This year, 14 long-legged chicks are following their parents or costumed surrogate parents in facilities from New Orleans to Calgary, Canada.

Whooping cranes are white with black wingtips and red caps, and at 5 feet high are the tallest bird in North America.

Last year, zoos and other places where the endangered birds are bred had to cut staff and reduce or eliminate use of artificial insemination and of having people in shape-disguising costumes raise chicks.

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