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SO CRANES MAY DANCE by Barbara Katz

SO CRANES MAY DANCE

A Rescue from the Brink of Extinction

By Barbara Katz

Pub Date: July 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55652-171-5
Publisher: Chicago Review

 An uneven history of the International Crane Foundation (ICF) and its efforts to save the world's cranes, by biologist/writer Katz (Bird Watcher's Digest, etc.--not reviewed). Katz chronicles the ups and downs of the ICF, founded in 1973 by two graduate students at Cornell, George Archibald and Ron Sauey, and dedicated to researching crane biology and behavior; conserving crane habitats; propagating captive cranes; restocking wild crane populations; and teaching the public about these birds. Sauey's parents provided the land--a farm in Wisconsin--and the initial financial backing. By 1976, the ICF was home to 14 of the 15 species of cranes in the world and had established an international reputation. In 1978, however, an outbreak of herpes killed many of the foundation's cranes, raising questions about the ways the birds were being cared for. Subsequently, the ICF was reorganized and emerged as a better managed, more financially secure foundation. But Katz provides few details on that most traumatic period in the ICF's history. Moreover, her humans are two-dimensional; it's only her cranes that come alive. While, on the page, Archibald and Sauey remain shadowy personalities, Tex--the nine-year-old whooping crane that thinks she's human and that Archibald dances with to bring into breeding condition--is a memorable character. Meanwhile, Katz's descriptions of the ICF's artificial-insemination program and of how chicks are parented by costumed humans are especially engaging. If increasing public awareness of the plight of cranes is the author's aim, she succeeds--but as a history of a conservation foundation, her text is full of gaps and often dull. The ICF story is wooden--but the cranes dance. (Color & b&w photographs--not seen)