The San Antonio Zoo has opened its latest habitat, Back from the Brink, for the whooping crane, the tallest North American bird, which is endangered.
The zoo has a history with the whooping crane, having been instrumental in bringing the bird back from the brink of extinction in 1956, when there were only 16 total whooping cranes in the wild.
The zoo took in an injured crane, Rosie, who injured a wing. After Rosie recovered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife gave approval to the zoo to launch a breeding program, which was wildly successful. The zoo was recognized in 2016 for its efforts when it received the prestigious North American Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“We hope this habitat shows guests how remarkable this animal is and gives them a whole new appreciation for the conservation work the zoo has been able to accomplish,” said Tim Morrow, president and CEO of San Antonio Zoo. “In some ways, our work is just beginning. With our AZA and conservation partners, we’re making strides daily to ensure whooping cranes are here for generations to come.”
The zoo’s new Back from the Brink habitat features shallow, grassy wetlands with landscaping and pure well water, creating a suitable environment for breeding.
Though the populations are steadily increasing, the birds are still faced with habitat loss and overhunting. Zoo officials said its new habitat will help with conservation efforts.