North American Crane Working Group


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Barrett, C., and T.V. Stehn. A retrospective of whooping cranes in captivity. In: Hartup, Barry K., ed., Proceedings of the Eleventh North American Crane Workshop, Sep 23-27, 2008, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (Baraboo, WI: North American Crane Working Group, 2010), pp. 166-179.


Reproduced by permission of the North American Crane Working Group.


Early records of captive whooping cranes (Grus americana) were compiled from historical files kept at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and other literature. Additional early records of captive whooping cranes in Europe were discovered. Annual numbers and location for all captive whooping cranes were tabulated. Starting in 1949, initial attempts at breeding the species in captivity were conducted opportunistically with a few injured birds captured from the wild. Acaptive breeding flock was started in 1966 at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, from second eggs collected in Canada from the only remaining wild flock. In 1989, the flock at Patuxent was split to guard against a catastrophic event from affecting the entire captive population. Currently, breeding occurs at 5 locations. The captive flocks are a safeguard of genetic material against catastrophic loss in the 266 birds currently in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population. Captive production is also used to attempt to reintroduce additional flocks into the wild.