Rescue center in China nurses raptors back to life

AP News
Posted: Jul 27, 2011 3:04 AM
Rescue center in China nurses raptors back to life

Each year the Beijing Raptors Rescue Center cares for and nurses back to health more than 300 injured birds that were rescued from the wild or turned in by their captors.

More than 43 types of raptors can be found in Beijing year-round, as the city falls along their migratory route. Some birds end up caught in traps that enthusiasts have set up, while others are injured by vehicles or predators.

The center, run by the nonprofit International Fund for Animal Welfare group, helps rehabilitate birds and prepares them for release back into the wild.

"Birds that are raised in captivity often have all sort of problems, for example their feathers don't grow," said Li Ying, the center's veterinarian. "If you want to release them into the wild again, it would take at least half a year, sometimes even longer."

Raptors often arrive at the center with illnesses such as a loss of feathers, foot infections, trauma and depression.

Owning birds such as pigeons, owls, falcons and varieties of raptors is not uncommon in China and it is not considered inhumane to cage and trap such wild birds.

In recent years, China has launched campaigns to kill tens of thousands of birds in an effort to curb bird flu after hundreds of fowl tested posted for the H5N1 virus.

Even though animal rights awareness is gaining more attention, China still has a shoddy record in this area. There is little animal welfare legislation, many zoos are poorly run and animal parts are traded for use in traditional medicine.