In the confines of a sanctuary life can flourish. Even a life that is tragically on the brink of extinction.
Such is the condition of the magnificent Whooping Crane (Grus americana); still struggling for survival as a species. The International Crane Foundation of Baraboo, Wisconsin, USA is just such a place that offers this form of sanctuary and hope.
My wife and I visited there in October 2008, accompanied by our 6 year old granddaughter, Brooklyn. We’d been before a few times. This was to revisit the crane exhibits and introduce Brooklyn to the cranes.
I say exhibits because the ICF houses and works to perpetuate the existence of all crane species found on earth. All the while being surrounded in the sky and on the ground, spring and fall, by the annual migrations of the resilient Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis).
We specifically chose to visit during mid-day and mid-week. We knew the human traffic would be low at that time. We were also there in the late fall, so cooler temps would keep people away as well. But in the cooler weather the birds – specifically the Whoopers are quite active. We were not aware, however, the ICF was in the middle of a major renovation. When done early next year (2009) the facility will be greatly expanded and even more enjoyable and inspiring. For our ‘inconvenience’ we entered on half-fare. Unexpected surprise! But they got it back with interest before we left.
The Whooper exhibit – the day we visited – consisted of an adult and juvenile male. It was most interesting watching the two male birds interact without the presence of a female. The mix of sexes is always a raucous event; at least potentially; regardless of the species. Thus we had a unique view of males only. Boys night out, per se.