Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Endangered crane may be sent to Seoul: Taipei Zoo

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dan Dan, an endangered red-crowned crane, walks around its cage at Taipei Zoo yesterday.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TAIPEI ZOO

A Taipei Zoo official said yesterday that an endangered crane, which has been staying at the zoo after an accident three years ago, may be transferred to South Korea and released into the wild.

The red-crowned crane, dubbed "Dan Dan" (丹丹), was injured at Hsinchu Air Force Base in September 2004 and taken to the zoo for treatment.

Zoo director Chen Pao-chung (陳寶忠) said that South Korea has obtained permission from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) -- an international treaty drafted in 1973 to protect wildlife and prevent international trade from threatening species with extinction -- allowing Taiwan to send the bird to South Korea legally.

With the document, South Korea hopes to take Dan Dan to its zoo in Seoul to build up the bird's muscles before releasing it into the wild.

Chen said that red-crowned cranes can be found in China, Korea and Japan. Taipei Zoo will cooperate with its counterpart in South Korea to train Dan Dan in preparation for its release in 2009.

The return of Dan Dan has been a challenge as the bird is on CITES' protected list. As such, Beijing's consent would be required before the bird could be sent to China.

Chen said sending Dan Dan to South Korea would not be a problem once Taiwan obtains permission to transfer the bird from the Council of Agriculture (COA).

Liu Hsin-bai (劉新白), director-general of the Wild Bird Society of Taipei, however, suggested that the bird be rehabilitated and released in Taipei.

"Rehabilitation and release are the best option for the crane. It would be easier to spend six months to a year building up the bird's muscles and helping it to learn to fly again in Taipei," Liu said.

Liu suggested that the department build a rehabilitation facility for the bird in Guandu Nature Park or on other municipal land.

Chang Chi-hua (張志華), director of the zoo's veterinarian's office, said Dan Dan is kept in an 8m by6.5m by 3.2m cage, making it difficult for the bird to spread its wings.

Chen said the zoo would discuss the issue with the COA.

"If the Taipei City Government, the Council of Agriculture and the society agree, the zoo would like to have South Korea take Dan Dan, as the Seoul's zoo has rich experience in nursing red-crowned cranes," Chen said.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) was also pessimistic about Dan Dan's trip to Seoul, saying the COA might not approve the trip.

"As different groups have different opinions about the bird's return to the wild, I think it's for the best to keep Dan Dan in the Taipei Zoo," Hau said.

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