Mar 14, 2024 - News

Whooping crane born at Dallas Zoo found dead in Louisiana

A baby whooping crane

A rare whooping crane chick, the first-ever born at the Dallas Zoo, was found dead on Jan. 9 in Louisiana. Photo: Courtesy of Dallas Zoo

A whooping crane hatched at the Dallas Zoo and released into the wild was found fatally shot in Louisiana, the zoo announced this week.

Why it matters: Whooping cranes are among the rarest species of birds, protected under the Endangered Species Act. Harming one is a federal crime.

  • The crane, born in June 2023, was the Dallas Zoo's first successful hatching of the species.

The latest: The crane was found dead, with a gunshot wound, on Jan. 9 in Mamou, Louisiana, according to the zoo.

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are investigating the incident.
  • A reward totaling $12,500 — contributed by various organizations including the zoo — is being offered for information leading to the arrest and indictment of anyone responsible.

Flashback: The bird was released into its natural habitat in Louisiana in November as part of the zoo's conservation efforts with the Whooping Crane Center of Texas.

Stunning stat: At approximately 5-feet-tall, the whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America.

What they're saying: "The impact of this significant loss is felt by everyone involved," zoo officials said in a statement to Axios.

  • "From the moment the egg arrived from the International Crane Foundation, our animal team dedicated countless hours to hatching, rearing, and providing care until the chick was released by the LDWF team in Louisiana."
  • "Please keep them in your thoughts as they process what has happened."

Go deeper: Read this 2016 Texas Monthly story about the many challenges facing the people trying to save whooping cranes.

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