Huge, graceful and one of the most threatened birds in the world.
For centuries, the crane’s size, elegant appearance, mysterious behaviour and haunting calls firmly rooted this iconic wetland bird within the lore of medieval Britain. But 400 years ago, the Eurasian Crane was considered extinct in the UK, eradicated due to hunting and habitat loss.
Yet now, thanks to pioneering work at WWT Slimbridge, they are back breeding again in south west England. With your support we aim to see these striking birds exhibiting their mysterious dancing displays all across the UK one day.
Adopt a crane today and ensure they continue to grace our skies now and into the future.
Make a great day out of it and use your free adopter's ticket to visit one of our nine centres around the UK, where you can find out more about the species and habitat you're helping protect.
A cute cuddly toy to remind you of your adopted crane
Your adopters’ welcome pack will include a fascinating fact pack, a limited edition poster, an iconic sticker sheet and a personalised certificate + a free ticket to any one of our centres around the UK
Our spring and autumn magazines will keep you updated on your chosen species.
In 2010, the Great Crane Project was launched with the aim of re-establishing a sustainable population of the common crane in the south west. Over the next five years, eggs collected each year from Germany were carefully hatched at Slimbridge. The young cranes were then fostered by human parents and sent to “Crane School”.
Each summer at WWT Slimbridge, two wardens worked round the clock in carefully controlled conditions to rear the chicks and teach them the life skills they needed to survive in the wild. They dressed up in beekeeper like suits to hide their human form and used adapted litter pickers to feed the young cranes. Working this way meant the chicks learnt how to forage for food while being prevented from imprinting on humans.
Following release we’ve seen an encouraging number of cranes pairing up, mainly holding territories on the Somerset Levels and Moors but also as wide ranging as Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire and South Wales. Last year some of these pairs were able to raise their own chicks to fledging, the first time this has happened in the South West for over 400 years!
But the work doesn’t end here: the birds still face many threats in the wild - such as when in 2013 flooding pushed the population to the very edge of the Somerset Levels - and we need to continue to monitor the cranes and to manage wetland habitats to ensure their continued success. With your support, these magnificent birds could become a common sight in the UK once again.
87p of every £1 goes directly towards our conservation work and every penny thereafter towards raising the next £1