ICF Firsts

When ICF was founded in 1973, little was known about the breeding biology of cranes and some species had never been hatched in captivity. Founders Ron Sauey and George Archibald reasoned that breeding cranes in captivity was on important step toward safeguarding them in the wild. They wanted to create a "species bank." Concurrent with their efforts to breed cranes in captivity, ICF began to make significant contributions to the conservation of cranes in the wild through research and collaboration with colleagues around the world.


1970s: ICF's co-founder, Ron Sauey brought international attention to the plight of the Siberian crane through his pioneering research of these cranes the threatened wetlands where they wintered in India. ICF's other co-founder, George Archibald, spearheaded a campaign to protect marshes on the Japanese island of Hokkaido where a flock of the endangered red-crowned cranes nested.

1974: George Archibald discovered and studied white-naped cranes on their wintering grounds in Korea, then led a successful campaign to save the Han Rive estuary - a critical wintering and migratory area located in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas.

1975: First red-crowned crane, Tsuru, hatched in the western hemisphere

1976: First hooded crane to ever hatch in captivity

1979: Brolgas hatched for the first time in North America

1981: ICF hatches, Dushenka, the first Siberian crane ever bred in captivity

1984-86: ICF pioneers "isolation rearing" efforts to release captive cranes into the wild.

1985: ICF receives black-necked cranes, making it the only facility in the world to have all fifteen crane species.

1987: ICF biologist began to assist the Vietnamese restore and mange the Tram Chim National Park in the delta of the Mekong River.

1989: As the expertise of ICF staff grew, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, home to nearly all captive whooping cranes, sent half of their flock to ICF.

1990: First black-necked crane hatched in North America

1990s: ICF played a leadership role in bringing Russia and China together for the purpose of preserving the wild character of the Amur River, the largest undammed river in the world, which forms the international border for over 1,000 miles. The Amur Basin is home to four species of endangered cranes plus many other rare species of plants and animals, including the Siberian tiger and Siberian leopard.

1993: First hatch of a wattled crane, making it the first institution to have bred all fifteen species successfully.

1994: ICF began in innovative community-based conservation and economic development project in south-central China for the villagers living at the Cao Hai Nature Reserve, home to black-necked and Eurasian cranes.

2001: ICF became involved in reestablishing an eastern population of whooping cranes by using ultralight aircraft to guide young cranes on migration from Wisconsin to Florida.

2003: ICF receives a Global Environment Fund (GEF) grant for the conservation of major wetlands used by Siberian cranes in western and eastern Asia.