History

1970s

1971: Ron Sauey and George Archibald meet at Cornell University

1972: George captures 12 Brolgas and Eastern Sarus cranes in Australia for captive breeding in Baraboo

1973: Establishment of the International Crane Foundation on the Sauey horse farm in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Horse stalls were converted to crane pens, enclosures built, and an incubator installed

1974: First publication of The Brolga Bugle, ICF's quarterly newsletter

First Red-crowned Cranes hatch at ICF1975: ICF hatches the first Red-crowned Cranes in the Western Hemisphere

In the spring of 1975, ICF's only pair of Red-crowned Cranes, Phil and Lulu, made their first nesting attempt, producing several infertile eggs and, eventually, two fertile eggs that successfully hatched. One of the chicks, Tsuru, is still living at ICF in our breeding facility, Crane City!

Photo (right): Lulu announces her first egg.

1976: The Annual Midwest Sandhill Crane Count begins as a cooperative venture between ICF and Middleton High School students; George Archibald visits Russia for the first time; ICF breeds Hooded Cranes in captivity, the first time in the world

ICF Archives 19771977: ICF receives hatching Siberian crane eggs from Russia

In 1977 ICF received ten Siberian Cranes from Yakutia in northeast Siberia. The chicks' eggs were removed from wild nests, transported to Moscow, and then flown (on the lap of an ICF representative!) to Madison, Wis. The cranes joined an existing Siberian Crane pair at ICF and helped established our breeding population.

Photo (left): Out for a stroll - Vladimir, one of two Siberian Cranes newly-arrived at the International Crane Foundation, got a bit of exercise and a breath of fresh air this morning as ICF Co-founder Ron Sauey looked on. Baraboo News Republic, August 5, 1977

1978: ICF hosts Soviet visitors - Vladimir Flint and Alexandar Blistanov

1979: ICF hatches Brolgas for the first time in North America; George Archibald travels to China for the first time

In November 1979, George saw his first Black-necked Cranes - four birds on exhibit at the Beijing Zoo. He had traveled for the first time to China by invitation of the Beijing Institute of Zoology to discuss programs focusing on cranes and ibises. These discussions formed the foundations for ICF's successful China Program.

 

1980s

1980: Over 1,000 people visit ICF in May.

Our invitation remains the same after over thirty years - to learn about the world's cranes by visiting ICF's headquarters in Wisconsin or through our outreach. View one of our favorite PSAs from the past with ICF's Board Chair Emeritus Mary Wickhem, who invites us to "See the Cranes!" (1980). Plan your visit to ICF.

1981: ICF hatches the first Siberian Crane ever bred in captivity

1982: Tex, the female Whooping Crane imprinted on humans, is courted by George. Through artificial insemination a chick is hatched and called Gee Whiz

burr oak planting 3001983: ICF outgrows the facilities of the Sauey farm, and moves a few miles north to our current 225-acre site on Shady Lane Road. The Cudahy Visitor Center and Johnson Exhibit Pod are dedicated

In 1981, following the ground-breaking for ICF's new site, ICF Co-founders Ron Sauey and George Archibald, along with Site Planner Konrad Liegel, planted a young burr oak tree (right).

The oak symbolized ICF's first years on the Sauey family's horse farm, and George noted that the tree "with its resilience against prairie fires and life span that hurtles centuries, represents the ICF spirit...that we know will continue for generations" (The Brolga Bugle, Oct 1981). The oak, now over 30 years old,  is thriving and stands guard over our Wattled Crane exhibit.

1984: ICF pioneers "isolation rearing" efforts to release captive cranes into the wild

1985: ICF receives Black-necked Cranes, making it the only place in the entire world to have all fifteen crane species

1986: Construction begins on "Crane City", a complex of crane enclosures and buildings

1987: The death of co-founder Ron Sauey is mourned worldwide; ICF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Forestry in China, organizes the International Crane Workshop in Qiqihar, the first major international conservation meeting in China

1988: ICF begins the first major wetland restoration outside of Wisconsin at what is now Tram Chim National Park in Vietnam

back from brink3001989: ICF receives 22 Whooping Cranes from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland

In late 1989, ICF received its first Whooping Cranes - 22 birds from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Over 400 6th and 7th graders from Baraboo, Wis. (left) welcomed a shipment of the cranes in early December with signs reading "Back from the Brink" and "Whoopee! The Whoopers Are Here!" (The ICF Bugle, Feb 1990). Today, ICF has over 30 Whooping Cranes and each spring produces fertile eggs for reintroduction and genetic management of the species.

 

1990s

1990: ICF hatches its first Black-necked Crane chick.

Dedication of the Ron Sauey Library for Bird Conservation1991: The Ron Sauey Memorial Library for Bird Conservation is completed

In early 1991, ICF supporters and staff gathered to dedicate a new library at our growing headquarters in Baraboo, WI (right). The building was designed to fill a need for a research center and library at ICF, while also standing as a loving memorial to ICF Co-founder Ron Sauey. Today, our unique collection of crane-related books and articles is a valuable resource for staff, interns and visiting colleagues.

1992: ICF conducts first wetland and water bird aerial surveys in Cambodia

1993: ICF begins contributing Whooping Cranes towards the establishment of a non-migratory flock in Florida; ICF supports the founding of Russia's first privately managed Nature Reserve, Muraviovka Park; ICF hatches its first Wattled Crane successfully. All 15 species have now been raised at ICF

august93 muraviovka bugle300

In June 1993 ICF staff and colleagues joined local residents to celebrate the dedication of a new nature park in Far Eastern Russia (left). The 16,000 acre Muraviovka Park for Sustainable Land Use protects a broad valley that was once the channel of the Amur River. Today, the Park's grasslands shelter breeding White-naped and Red-crowned Cranes, along with many other species of birds. Park staff, volunteers, and visiting instructors lead a thriving environmental education program for local teachers and students and demonstrate sustainable farming methods to visitors.

1994: Richard Beilfuss begins a major Africa project on the delta of the Zambezi River in Mozambique; ICF begins a poverty alleviation project at Cao Hai Nature Reserve that becomes a foremost example of community involvement in conservation in China

1995: The Amoco Whooping Crane Exhibit opens, showing Whooping Cranes in a recreated wetland/prairie setting, much as may have been seen during the early 1800s in Wisconsin

1996: International Children's Art Exchange begins

1997: Li Fengshan is hired as China Program Coordinator, the first foreign national to join the ICF staff

1998: First group of ICF volunteers assists Cuban colleagues with public education

1999: ICF joins the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership in efforts to reintroduce a migratory flock of Whooping Cranes into their historic range in the Eastern United States

2000s

2000: George Archibald steps down as ICF President and CEO of ICF and Jim Harris, former Vice President of Programs, becomes ICF's new president

2001: The first flock of Whooping Cranes is led to Florida behind an ultralight aircraft operated by pilots from Operation Migration

2002: From the Florida non-migratory flock of reintroduced Whooping Cranes, one pair hatches and raises a chick dubbed Lucky.

2003: ICF turns 30! ICF receives a Global Environment Facility (GEF) grant for the conservation of major wetlands used by Siberian Cranes

2004: Rich Beilfuss, Africa Program Director, documents the largest concentration of Wattled Cranes ever recorded in Ethiopia