Red-Crowned Crane Chick Hatches at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


July 13, 2023 10:50 pm


London, The United Kingdom

ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have introduced a red-crowned crane chick hatched on Sunday July 2nd at the ZSL conservation zoo. It is under the care of mother Blossom and dad, Fuji. This week the chick was given a clean bill of health by keepers and vets.

At present guests may see the chick peeking out from between its mothers wings. One day in the future it will grow to be part of a conservation program aimed at securing a future for the iconic species.

Bird keeper Alex Johnson said: “A team of zookeepers and veterinary experts joined forces to perform the all-important health check on the four-day-old, while its dedicated parents looked on. The little bundle of red fluff was carefully weighed at 206g, before Vet Shiva Sawmy listened to the hatchling's heartbeat and lungs, and methodically checked its wings, feet and eyes. The little one was also given a treatment against worms.”

Vet nurse Karla Berry said parasites, like worms, were a common killer for the rare species.

“Red-crowned cranes often forage for insects and sadly as the parents feed their chicks, they can pass on parasites, which could be deadly. By applying this antiparasitic treatment for worms, we can protect this important hatchling and help ensure it remains strong and healthy as it grows and explores its home in the heart of the Dunstable Downs,” she said.

Following the health check the chick was quickly returned to its parents. Keepers will not interact with it again till 4 months old when they will take a DNA sample. This sample will be used to determine the gender of the chick.

Regardless of its gender it will be an important addition to the international breeding program, "With less than 2,200 adult red-crowned cranes left in China and Japan, hatchlings like this little one help form an important insurance policy, for if we ever need to re-introduce the birds back into the wild,” said Alex. “Despite being a symbol of happiness and long life in Japan, the crane population continues to decline across East Asia due to habitat loss, flooding, hunting and pollution in important wetland areas.”

The chick is the first for its parents, who are monogamous. In previous years they have been tasked with fostering chicks from other pairs. Alex explained, ''The chick’s 40-year-old dad, Fuji, and 17-year-old mum, Blossom, have been diligently feeding the chick, sharing the load of raising it, and can often be seen tucking the hatchling under their wing when it needs a bit of a snooze or a rest from exploring. The cranes, which have a bright red ‘crown’ on the top of their heads are tried and tested parents, having fostered hatchlings from other crane species for the last five years. It's great they now have their own chick to care for.” 

Red-Crowned Crane Chick ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Image: © ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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Also known as the Japanese or Manchurian crane, learn more about these brilliant birds on our website.

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Red crowned cranes are considered sacred in Japan. Here they are seen as a sign of fidelity in a marriage.

Image: © ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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