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Charly Haley, Published January 03 2013

Red River Zoo gets cranes

FARGO – Community members, children from local day cares and one giant puppet visited the Red River Zoo on Thursday for the unveiling of the white-naped crane exhibit.

“That laughter is what this zoo is all about,” Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker said as children’s laughter filled the zoo’s Carnival Pavilion.

Elmo from “Sesame Street Live” also attended, waving at the children, posing near the cranes and promoting the “Sesame Street Live” shows at the Fargodome this weekend.

Walaker, who said he enjoys bringing his grandsons to the zoo, said the new crane exhibit is a good improvement for the zoo.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with those two birds,” he joked. “They’re walking around like it’s not cold out.”

The cranes’ new habitat is outside. It was built almost entirely by volunteers using donated materials, said Lisa Tate, executive director of the zoo.

The exhibit’s primary sponsors are Lowe’s and the National Association of Women in Construction. Other area businesses also made donations. Lowe’s was helping as part of its “Lowe’s Heroes” community service effort.

Tate said the Red River Zoo has had the male white-naped crane for four years and the female for two, but this is the first time for a public exhibit, which officially opens on Saturday.

White-naped cranes are large birds native to northern China and Mongolia. They are an endangered species, and Tate said there are only about 90 of them in captivity.

“They’re such beautiful birds, and this is such a beautiful exhibit,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Charly Haley at (701) 235-7311

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