Its mission accomplished, 51-year-old USWFS captive breeding program for whooping cranes closes down

Each spring for 12 years, Paula Wang began a temporary position at a government lab in a suburb north of Washington. She was required to remain silent while working and to wear a white suit and hood. The mission was not top-secret, but Wang felt it was urgent all the same; she had to save an endangered species.

Wang was a volunteer in the job, which involved using puppets to feed newborn whooping cranes, one of North America's largest and rarest birds. As the chicks grew closer to their eventual five-foot height, she would escort them on walks and swims. The goal was to make the birds strong but not used to humans; to make them able to survive in the wild, even if they did not come from it.

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