Baraboo crane facility celebrates Saving Cranes Day with new look

BARABOO, Wis. — September 18 is Saving Cranes Day in Wisconsin, and one group of “craniacs” in Baraboo is celebrating the birds today with a fresh new look.

The International Saving Cranes foundation was founded in 1973, and for the past 48 years, employees and members have dedicated their time to preserving all fifteen species of cranes, eleven of which are endangered.

The foundation closed in 2018, in preparation for a ten million dollar facelift, courtesy of many donors. The additions made allowed the Foundation to add wetlands to all of their crane enclosures, as well as updating signage for visitors.

 “One of the reasons we wanted to do the renovation was to make sure that these cranes are so happy,” said Marketing and Communications Coordinator Pamela Seelman. 

The happiness and wellbeing of the cranes is a top priority at the facility, which houses around 120 of the birds, according to Chief Operating Officer Kim Smith.

“There’s not a single crane here that doesn’t have our focus and our hard work to make sure they’re here for future generations,” said Smith.

After three years of renovations and an additional year of the pandemic, they’ve finally reopened the crane exhibits, celebrating Wisconsin’s Saving Cranes Day and their new accommodations.

The cranes draw in around 20,000 visitors per year in a typical May 1-October 31 season. According to Anne Lacy, the Senior Manager of the facility’s North American bird program, this allows them to advocate for themselves in a way.

“We use cranes as ambassadors,” said Lacy. “When you know about something and you care about something you’re going to care about where they live and why they live there”