West African Crowned Crane Pair Fosters Endangered East African Crowned Crane Chicks

Two endangered East African crowned crane chicks, recently hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, are now being fostered by a pair of West African crowned cranes.

The eggs were laid by inexperienced first-time parents on one of the islands in the Safari Park’s African Outpost. To safeguard and ensure that the eggs had the best possible chance of surviving, keepers moved the eggs to an incubator at the chick rearing facility.

A few days before the eggs were due to hatch, keepers placed them in the nest of a mated pair of West African crowned cranes with parenting experience, to complete the hatching process. Both eggs successfully hatched—one on Sept.17 and the other on Sept. 19. Today, the chicks are healthy and thriving under the watchful eyes of their foster parents.

“These East African crowned crane chicks are here in this exhibit because we feel it’s the best place at the Safari Park for them to grow and flourish, since they are an endangered species,” said Marci Rimlinger, lead keeper in the Bird department at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

East African crowned cranes get their name from the tall, stiff golden feathers that cover their head. Their long legs and neck, and excellent peripheral vision help these birds spot predators above the tall savanna grasses where they hunt for worms, insects, lizards and small mammals. They live near rivers and wetlands in Africa, where their habitats are being threatened due to habitat drainage, overgrazing and pesticide pollution.

Guests at the Safari Park can see the chicks at the crowned crane exhibit, located just past the main entrance to the park on the right side of the wooden walkway.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2015, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park