Zoo Atlanta will close early this Saturday, May 28 for Brew at the Zoo. Last entry is 1:30 p.m. 

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Blue crane chick vet check

Hey, Zoo Atlanta fans! It’s been a busy summer here at Zoo Atlanta, and on recent visits many of you may have noticed our newest addition to the bird family: a baby blue crane! This little ball of fluff was hatched on July 8 to our pair, Don and Peggy, and we could not have asked for better parents. Mom spends her day showing her chick how to forage for food, and dad is overprotective as always, scanning the habitat and protecting his family! At hatch, blue cranes are grey in coloration with a bright orange cap on top of their heads. This orange coloration will eventually turn grey blue like its parents, but for now we have an adorable red head. During the first few weeks of the chick’s life, keepers provided a special diet of chick starter, crushed crane grain, worms, and chopped egg three times daily to ensure healthy growth.

Usually, when chicks hatch in the Bird Department, the keeper team will weigh and take pictures of the chick daily to track development. However, we are not doing this with the crane chick. Cranes, even when first hatched, have very long, delicate legs that can be injured easily if handled too roughly or too often. To avoid any issues, the Bird Team only “catches up” with the crane chick when necessary for vet examinations and vaccines. Vets assess the crane’s body condition, feather condition and weight. They also listen to the heart and potentially take blood to ensure a thorough examination. In order to safely get an accurate weight, keepers will gently wrap a towel around the chick’s body and legs, keeping everything cushioned and protected before being placed on the scale. Keepers have affectionately named this the “bird burrito,” and this method will only be used until the chick is old enough to begin training for voluntary weighs by stepping on a flat scale. Once the checkup is done, and the blue crane chick is released back to its parents, it will ruffle its feathers, start eating breakfast, and act as if nothing had ever happened.
Katherine Biddle
Keeper I, Birds

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