RICHARD ZAIDAN, visitor experience manager
Wood Buffalo was established 32 years before we even knew the whooping cranes were here. Their summer breeding area is very isolated, so it was luck that they were protected by a national park. You can’t just walk in to see them, because it’s so marshy and wet. At one point, the park had the only whooping cranes in the world, with just over 20 individuals. Last year, there were 82 nests — the most on record — and now there are 308 birds — Earth’s only self-sustaining wild flock. They nest, raise their young and fly almost 4,000 kilometres to the Gulf of Mexico and Texas to winter. It’s pretty rare even for staff here to see them, but four years ago, I saw my first crane at the salt plains, which you can drive to. Since then, there have been cranes there quite consistently.