Crane raised by hand to call Neb. zoo home

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Greater Sandhill crane that was raised by a Colorado ranch hand and then refused to rejoin its own kind will get a new home at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.

The crane, named Baby, will live with 75 other cranes, most of which are unable to fly because of injuries, officials said Wednesday.

"We'll just have to see how the crane does with a captive flock," said Dan Cassidy, general curator for the zoo.

Baby was a downy chick when ranch hand Roberto Lozano found him alone near Nucla in southwestern Colorado in 2005. Fearing dogs had killed the bird's parents or driven them away, Lozano took the bird home.

While living with Lozano, Baby would sit on the porch, eat cat food and sometimes fly to the nearby town of Naturita and stroll Main Street. He also hung out on playgrounds.

After learning he had cancer, Lozano asked friends to try to get Baby to join other cranes in the wild, but Baby resisted, preferring human company.

Baby was then taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, but staff concluded he couldn't be retrained and turned Baby over to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Baby lived at a DOW wildlife center in southern Colorado while a new home was sought.

Kate Goshorn, manager of the DOW's wildlife rehabilitation center, will turn Baby over to Omaha Zoo officials on Aug. 27 in Ogallala, Neb.

DOW spokesman Joe Lewandowski said it's rare for sandhill cranes to nest and hatch young in Colorado.

Lewandowski said wild animals often leave their young alone to go hunt or eat, and he said people shouldn't pick them up. He said young birds adapt to human company quickly, and once they do, they can seldom be trained to survive in the wild.