Crane, Stanley

Anthropoides paradisea

Forehead to nape of neck white with some gray; fore neck is dark gray with ashy wash; rest of neck gray; lower fore neck and upper breast have long pointed slate gray plumes. Plumage on crown and ears is loose and long. Chin white with some gray, throat dark gray. Rest of body is slate gray. Eyes are dark brown; bill is pinkish yellow, and legs and feet are black. Sexes are alike with females smaller. Wingspan measures 5 to 7 feet. Beak is between 2.5 to almost 3 feet. They reach a height of approximately 43 inches (3.5 feet). Downy young have a buff yellow head and neck and gray back. Immatures are light blue-gray with light chestnut or a tawny color on top of head and sometimes neck.








S. Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho


Marshes and grasslands

Life Expectancy

Up to 50 years

Sexual Maturity

2 to 3 years of age


Invertebrates, particularly locusts. In the Zoo, they are fed crane pellets, chopped greens and dust greens with nekton and osteoform mix.


IUCN - Vulnerable, CITIES - Appendix II


Locally, the Stanley crane is migratory. Main concentrations can be found in the upland country in central and eastern South Africa. The spectacular courtship dance of the Stanley crane begins with the pair running around in circles. Suddenly they stop and call in unison. Then both birds simultaneously pick up bunches of grass and throw them in the air. Females usually lay two eggs in a ground nest lined with reeds or stones, usually in a dry field or marsh.


Cranes have specially designed windpipes that enable them to produce very distinct, raspy calls and resonating cries. These vocalizations can be heard up to several miles away.

Special Interests

The Stanley crane is the national bird of South Africa.


The name crane comes from the Celtic word “garan”, meaning to call or cry out. It pertains to the bird’s unique song. In some cultures, it is believed that the souls of the dead ride into heaven on a crane’s back.


Stanley crane numbers have declined due to intentional and unintentional poisoning and habitat destruction. Stricter laws and penalties for violations have been enforced to protect cranes. Not much concern was focused on them until the 1980’s.

Jacksonville Zoo History

If we can trust common names from early in the last century, then our first Stanley crane arrived in 1916. We do know that Stanley cranes arrived in the Zoo’s animal collection during September 1966.


Plains of East Africa