Behind the Scenes at a Refuge for Earth's Rare Species
Smithsonian institute offers hope for scimitar-horned oryx, kiwi, and other animals.
Front Royal, VirginiaOn a recent November afternoon, a white-naped crane named Walnut squawks loudly, then juts her long neck back and forth, mimicking the movement of an animal keeper nearby.
The hand-raised crane has come a long way since she arrived at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in 2004. Then 24 years old, she had never been able to breed due to her close relationship with people. In fact, when she tried to breed naturally at other facilities, she killed two male cranes in the process.
But SCBI staff have been able to use artificial insemination to help Walnut produce six chicks since she arrived.
Walnut is just one success story of the institute, a 3,200-acre (1,290-hectare) campus among the rolling hills