GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – There are only 826 whooping cranes in the world, and the NEW Zoo in Green Bay is now the home for two of them.
According to the NEW Zoo, McMillan and Hunnicutt are settling into their wetland habitat in the Northern Trail section of the NEW Zoo.
McMillan and Hunnicutt are among the 159 of these birds that are living under human care, as a part of an effort to save the species. The NEW Zoo joined the AZA SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program for the whooping cranes.
There were fewer than 21 whooping cranes left by the mid-1940s and in 1986 the Whooping Crane Recovery Plan was established, according to officials. Wisconsin is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to see whooping cranes in the wild.
Five-year-old female crane McMillan (aka Millie) was hatched and costume-reared (her caretakers wore crane costumes to keep her from imprinting on humans) at a breeding center. McMillan was one of the last young cranes who learned migration routes by following an ultralight.
According to the NEW Zoo, McMillan’s life in the wild was cut short as her companion was killed and she suffered a broken wing during a predator attack. Her injury ended her ability to survive in the wild.
Visitors could see McMillan and Hunnicut engage in unison calling and other pair-bonding activities as they get to know each other. The two’s home is adjacent to the moose habitat at the NEW Zoo.