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THE ZOO’S FIRST WATTLED CRANE CHICK

Zoo Atlanta celebrates another first for its bird program as the Bird Team continues to monitor the growth of the Zoo’s first-ever wattled crane chick, hatched on May 31, 2020.

The chick’s first-time parents were recommended to breed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The egg was incubated by its parents for approximately 36 days, and the chick is being reared in its habitat in the Lower Zoo portion of Zoo Atlanta. At the current time, the chick’s father seems to have assumed the role of primary caregiver, although its mother is very defensive of the chick and has been observed brooding it overnight.

The hatching is a first in recorded history at Zoo Atlanta and is a success for a species that is challenging to breed in zoological settings. Listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), wattled cranes in zoos are managed as part of an AZA-monitored program that works to maintain long term population viability.

“Zoo Atlanta is thrilled about the hatching and continued successful development of the newest member of our bird population, especially given this is a species that is known to be challenging to reproduce in zoological environments,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “Wattled cranes are a large and magnificent species representing a very important ecosystem in Africa. We look forward to watching the chick grow.”

Native to sub-Saharan Africa, wattled cranes are the world’s second-tallest crane species, with adults reaching heights of up to five feet. Their primary threats in the wild include habitat destruction and degradation of the wetland environments upon which they depend. The species is particularly sensitive to pesticides, illegal overcollection of eggs, and changes to their environment caused by power plants or other human activities.

Watch the chick grow in its habitat at Zoo Atlanta. The Zoo is open with new policies and procedures in place to promote wellness and prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include timed ticketing with advance reservations required; a one-way route through the Zoo; more than 60 hand-sanitizing stations throughout Zoo grounds for guest convenience; and signage and other aids to assist guests in facilitating social distancing. Masks are currently required for all guests over the age of 10. Learn more on zooatlanta.org.

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