The family of an 87-year-old man were astonished when a giant crane dropped in for his funeral service.
A video circulating online showed a wild red-crowned crane walking into the mourning hall in broad daylight in Panjin, a coastal city in central China’s Liaoning province, and bowing its head in front of the coffin.
The polite but uninvited visitor walked slowly into the family home in Panjin and according to other mourners, even waited for its turn behind a man who had arrived earlier and was kneeling in front of the coffin to pay respects.
The crane then bowed in front of the altar and coffin before slowly making its way out of the hall.
The deceased man’s son-in-law said the family had then given the visitor corn, vegetables, and live fish.
He added that after the crane paid its respects in the mourning hall, it made its way to the deceased’s bedroom where it remained for the rest of the afternoon before flying off after 4 pm.
In Chinese mythology, cranes are a symbol of longevity and are also represented as a divine bird that can travel between heaven and earth.
In addition the phrase ‘riding the crane to the West’ is a euphemism for death, and the visit of the animal was seen as a good omen, and due to the good karma that the man had built before his death.
The Panjin Forestry and Wetland Conservation Administration responded to Chinese media queries and verified that the red-crowned crane in the video is real.
They said Panjin is home to many cranes, including those that were raised by humans before being released into the wild, adding that it might explain why the crane showed up at the home and appeared to be unfazed by humans.
They also rejected the online suggestion that the crane was part of a paid service by the funeral parlour as the red-crowned crane is a first-class protected animal in China. It is classified as vulnerable, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
For the past 30 years, a reserve area and breeding centre for red-crowned cranes in Panjin City in the Liaoning province has helped to protect and increase the population of these birds from three to over 200.
Since 2021, the local government has implemented a five-year plan with the goal of growing the non-migratory red-crowned crane population to 500.