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09 15/09/2010

Hand puppet for West African Crowned Cranes

A hand puppet is being used to raise some very special birds here at Chester Zoo.

The West Africa Crowned Cranes – endangered in the wild – are being given a helping hand by innovative keepers. Cranes are a species which will imprint on the first images they see after hatching and could end up seeing keeping staff as their parents.

To help the three chicks grow up thinking they are cranes, keepers are using a puppet, designed to look exactly like an adult crane, to feed the chicks. This will ensure the chicks grow up to breed themselves.

Native to the grasslands of Africa, specifically the Senegal to Chad region, the cranes are in danger due to habitat loss. The capture and trade of this species is having a dramatic effect on wild numbers.

Chester Zoo supports in situ conservation initiatives and has provided £7925 to assist in the conservation of Black Crowned Cranes coastal area of West Africa.

Pictures courtesy of Phil Noble/Reuters

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