Zoo Dating Service for Cranes Produces Baby

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The dating scene is rough enough as it is -- your Friday nights may be more prone to pitfalls than opportunities to fall in love. So imagine if you're an endangered species. The pool of dateable animals is suddenly exponentially smaller and you spend more and more Friday nights alone and posting ads in the local paper:

Single White-naped Crane. Female. 4' tall, 12 lbs, dark gray feathers. ISO single white-naped male crane who enjoys singing, dancing, walks along the wetlands and eating small animals. I want to have your babies. If interested, please call me at 555-CRNE

The new baby white-naped crane. Image Courtesy of the National Zoo.

For the not-so-desperate white-naped crane, there's the The Species Survival Program, which has been described as a matchmaker to make a match — "and catch a catch" — for endangered species. It is a program among zoos that pairs off animals in order to produce genetically healthy populations. The program recently brought together two cranes—out of the 60 currently in the program—at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Virginia. Sure, the couple fought like mad when introduced to each other—nothing artificial insemination couldn't fix. (Animals seem to get by fine without marriage counseling—why can't people?). The resultant egg was given to foster parent cranes—a home environment with two perpetually bickering parents was perfectly unsuitable. Zoo staffers were able to extract a blood sample from inside the egg without damaging the embryo and determined the gender of the chick before it hatched. Turns out it was a female, which is good news indeed as females are in short supply. This newest addition to the Special Survival Program came out of her shell on May 23.

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