The Crane that Fell in Love with Her Zookeeper

Walnut is a white-naped crane, a highly endangered species. She is part of a “security population” of breeding cranes in captivity to keep crane genetics in existence if the wild population fails. But Walnut doesn’t want to mate with another crane- she has imprinted on humans, and even killed two potential mates.

Following the incidents, Walnut was transferred to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, where she met Chris. Her new keepers were eager to see her mate with somebody. Anybody. So when she lifted her wings in a mating dance and let fly the sensual woo-wooooo that can only mean one thing, her keepers were inclined to give her what she wanted. Namely, Chris. And because cranes can live up to 60 years in captivity, Chris isn’t getting out of this anytime soon.

Walnut could have chosen worse: her guy has always had a soft spot for animals, particularly endangered species. In the past, his conservation work sent him into the field, where he worked with California condors, red wolves, and black-footed ferrets. Now, he cares for 24 cranes. "I like getting to know these animals individually and giving them the best captive life they can have," he says.

Since Walnut was willing to mate with Chris Crowe and no one else, he became responsible for getting her pregnant …by artificial insemination, of course. An article at the Verge explains how he managed to do that. It may seem a bit creepy, but you do what you gotta do in the world of wildlife conservation. -via reddit

(Image credit: Warren Lynch/SCBI)

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