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Long time resident mourned at the NZCBI

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s (NZCBI) campus in Front Royal is mourning the loss of Walnut, a white-nape crane.

She became an internet sensation for choosing one of her keepers as her mate.

At 42 years old the crane was considered elderly for her species, since the median age of her species in captivity is 15 years old.

Bird Keeper Chris Crowe gained Walnut’s trust by flapping his arms, mimicking the unison dance of male cranes, and bringing her food.

He was eventually able to artificially inseminate her without sedation.

On January 2nd bird keepers noticed that Walnut was not interested in eating or drinking.

NZCBI veterinarians administered fluids and antibiotics while they evaluated her bloodwork.

Keepers presented Walnut with her favorite food items such as frozen-thawed mice, peanuts, and mealworms to entice her appetite.

Unfortunately, she continued to decline and she died naturally with her care team by her side.

A necropsy revealed renal failure as the cause of her death.

From 2005 to 2020, she successfully contributed eight offspring to her species’ survival.

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