Houston Zoo’s Wetlands Exhibit to feature whooping cranes

HOUSTON — The Houston Zoo’s new Texas Wetlands Exhibit showcases some whooping cranes that were relocated from Maryland after their federally funded habitat closed last year.

The $20 million Texas complex, which opened in late May, is the first of four exhibits being built to mark the zoo’s 100th anniversary in 2022, the Houston Chronicle reported . The cranes are among three species featured in the exhibit. The other two are American alligators and bald eagles, and all three are native to Texas. At one time, all were nearing extinction.

The aim is to make the new exhibit as engaging and genuine as possible, for visitors and animals.

“We wanted to build on Texas pride — that these are animals right here in Texas because Texans cared enough about it to do something,” said Lee Ehmke, the zoo’s CEO. “We want people to understand that the zoo is a conservation organization.”

Whooping cranes have been on the endangered species list since 1967, but the population started declining decades prior due to illegal hunting and conversion of the Great Plains to agriculture.

So in 1966, scientists at the Maryland-based Patuxent Wildlife Research Center launched a captive breeding program to boost the numbers.

But that centre was shut last year after the Trump administration ousted the $1.5 million-a-year breeding program run by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Whooping cranes are still endangered, but the overall population has grown more than tenfold in the last 50 years since Patuxent’s program began,” John French, a director of the Patuxent centre, said in March. “The end of the USGS program is an indication of just how far we’ve come in our research and recovery efforts.”

The Houston Zoo was one of numerous zoos and wildlife centres that came forward to take the 75 birds in Patuxent’s care. In some cases, the centres continued the breeding initiative that has already raised enough cranes to preserve close to 800 birds scattered across four North American flocks, including the one that voyages to Texas every winter.

Texas’ flock is migratory and the lone independent one in North America. Every year, the whooping cranes journey 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometres) from Canada to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Just Posted

Some central Alberta businesses pledge to pay youth $15 ahead of wage cut that kicks in Wednesday

Jo(e) Social Media Inc. and Kavaccino’s pledge to pay youth more than $13 an hour

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

LONGUEUIL, Que. — David Saint-Jacques returned to Earth on Monday after more… Continue reading

Red Deer property taxes are due Friday

City warns late fees will be applied after June 28

Cambodia charges 7, including Chinese, in building collapse

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia — A court in Cambodia said Tuesday that seven people,… Continue reading

WATCH: Hundreds run in the 5K Foam Fest in Red Deer

The annual event took place at Heritage Ranch on Saturday

Skinny Vancouver Whitecaps eager to pick up points on four-game road swing

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps know there’s work to be done as… Continue reading

World Cup exit shows Canada will miss the remarkable Christine Sinclair

PARIS — Christine Sinclair has put Canadian soccer on her shoulders for… Continue reading

Police release more than 1,000 files from Smollett probe

Chicago police on Monday released more than 1,000 files from the investigation… Continue reading

Tributes to Michael Jackson flow on 10th death anniversary

LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s estate paid tribute to his artistry and… Continue reading

Alberta government, Opposition swap accusations, attacks in earplug debate

EDMONTON — Alberta’s earplug debate got louder Monday as the Opposition NDP… Continue reading

‘Clients fall off:’ Calgary program helps recently released prisoners with hep C

CALGARY — Imagine adjusting to life after serving prison time, then add… Continue reading

Opera star Measha Brueggergosman recovering from double bypass surgery

CALGARY — Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman is recovering from heart surgery,… Continue reading

Who you gonna call? Alberta rattlesnake wrangler keeps serpents, citizens safe

LETHBRIDGE — One rattlesnake got caught in freshly laid tar under someone’s… Continue reading

Most Read