Apr 28

A Cute Story of Sandhill Surrogacy

by Staff

While caring for both a rescued adult sandhill and an orphaned chick, SeaWorld’s Aviculture team put their problem-solving skills to work to create a successful surrogacy.

A few weeks ago, an adult sandhill crane was rescued and brought to SeaWorld Orlando’s Aviculture Team with a rubber gasket around his bill. Not only was the crane incapable of eating, but the proper growth of its bill was also in jeopardy. Once SeaWorld’s veterinarians removed the gasket, they worked with the Aviculture Team, providing around-the-clock care for the crane. Thankfully, the adult sandhill crane has had a right-on-schedule recovery, but he just so happened to make a friend while doing so.

At about the same time the adult sandhill was being cared for, SeaWorld’s aviculturists were posed with the challenge of caring for a newly hatched sandhill chick, which is sometimes difficult. If a chick isn’t around other cranes during its early months, the possibility of imprinting on a human increases, making survival harder once released back into their natural habitat.

Aviculturists brainstormed the perfect solution – pair the two! The adult crane was placed with the orphaned chick and by simply tolerating and not hurting the chick, the adult sandhill is acting as a surrogate. The fuzzy chick is even mimicking and learning behaviors. So what does the future hold for these two pals? SeaWorld Orlando’s Aviculture Team plans to release the adult and chick together, once the chick learns to fly.