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Serving as committees of expert advisors, Taxon Advisory Groups assist in the selection of appropriate species for AZA conservation programs and provide a forum for discussing husbandry, veterinary, ethical and other issues that apply to entire taxa. Through regional collection planning, they recommend species for new AZA studbooks, SSPs and other zoo- and aquarium-based programs; establish priorities for management, research and conservation; and recruit qualified individuals to carry out these activities.

In addition, TAGs examine animal management techniques based on scientific studies and assist SSP coordinators in developing animal care and husbandry guidelines. Purposely organized along the same lines as the specialist groups of the IUCN-The World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission (SSC) and Bird Life International's Taxonomic Specialist Groups, TAGs also promote cooperation and sharing of information between AZA and other regional and international conservation programs.


The Gruiformes Taxon Advisory Group initially was established in 1987 formally as the Crane TAG. At that time four crane SSP's, (hooded, red-crowned, wattled, and white-naped) received program approval from AZA's Wildlife Conservation Management Committee (WCMC).The first Masterplan secession for the four crane SSP's was hosted at the Bronx Zoo, 2-3 May 1989.

By the mid 1990's the Crane TAG evolved to encompass all eleven Gruiformes families. This document represents the first edition of a Regional Collection Plan (RCP) for this TAG. A review of the eleven Gruiformes families shows, as one might expect, that cranes have been and likely will continue to be a high priority in our collections.

AZA collections currently house all fifteen crane species to some reasonable population level. Conversely, three families, Mesitornthidae (mesites), Aramidae (limpkins), and Heliornithidae (finfoots) currently have no representation in any AZA institution. The remaining seven families; Turnicidae (buttonquail), Rallidae (rails), Psophiidae (trumpeters), Rhynochetidae (kagu), Eurypygidae (sunbittern), Cariamidae (seriemas), and Otididae (bustards) are represented, some to a greater degree than others.

The mission of the Gruiformes Tag is to promote conservation through captive management, propagation, education, research, and engagement in in-situ support through cooperation with the relevant local and international Governments, NGO's, specialist groups and Gruiformes TAG's in other global regions.

  • Produce and implement a Gruiformes TAG Regional Collection Plan that optimizes the use of AZA spaces for conservation programs and to ensure sustainable TAG populations.
  • Improve zoological husbandry management and exhibition techniques.
  • Minimize the need for importation of wild specimens for zoological programs.
  • Promote habitat conservation to secure wild population stability and where needed growth
  • Recruit new institutions for both holding and breeding, so that our managed programs may continue to grow and thrive.
  • Work toward expanding the number of crane species managed under GCS (Global Conservation Strategy) formally GASP (Global Animal Survival Plan). On a regional level, it addresses our limited crane spaces and maximizes the number of crane species managed in AZA institutions.
  • Begin process to compile Animal Care Manuals for targeted Gruiformes species.
  • Recruit species champions or program managers as needed.
  • Evaluate Hooded crane captive population to determine how best to manage the species in North America

Fred Beall
Franklin Park Zoo

Carol Hesch
Memphis Zoo

This page was created by Tori Spinoso
Red-crowned Crane SSP Coordinator
Updated: Aug 8, 2012