Red-crowned cranes Grus japonensis

The red-crowned crane is one of the rarest and largest cranes in the world. It is estimated that there may be as few as 1,500 adults left in the wild and this number is getting smaller. This is why it is so important for collections, like Hanwell Zoo, to participate in international conservation programs, protecting and increasing numbers in captivity. Helping to save this beautiful species from extinction.

Many wild red-crowned cranes breed in Siberia and north-eastern China, migrating to Korea and east-central china for the winter. Resident populations in Japan live there all year round. In some areas of its home range, the red-crowned crane is seen as a symbol for longevity and fidelity, due to it being one of the longest lived of all birds (20-40 years old in the wild, 60-70 years old in captivity) and their partnerships usually last a lifetime.

Our pair, called Fraiser and Lillith, were born in 2013 and have a long life ahead of them. A lifelong relationship takes a lot of work, and cranes do this by dancing. Early in the morning, the pair will bow, offer gifts of leaves and twigs and mimic each other’s dance moves to strengthen their bond.

Fraiser and Lillith eat a lot of fruit and insects, but their favourite food is fish.