East African Crowned Cranes are large, long-legged birds with straight bills, long necks and a golden feathery “crown” protruding from the back of the head. They are very social birds -- numbering up to 100 in one flock -- and known for elaborate mating displays.
Many East African crowned crane populations are declining mainly due to degradation and loss of their wetland nesting habitat from agriculture, overgrazing of livestock and pesticide use. The species is listed as Vulnerable (IUCN) and in CITES Appendix II. Another threat to crowned cranes is the illegal capture of wild cranes for the wildlife trade and for food. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has provided a grant to the African Crane Project to gather data on gray crowned crane and black crowned crane populations, which will help address the problems of the poaching and illegal trade for these species.
SeaWorld San Diego is home to several East African Crowned Cranes, who can be seen flying over the audience in “Blue Horizons.”
1. This crane species, along with the black crowned-crane, are the only cranes able to roost in trees. Both species have long, flexible hind toes that let them grip onto branches.
2. African Crowned Cranes are often considered the living fossils of the crane family. They were able to survive the Ice Age in the savannas of Africa.