Sat, Aug 27, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Japan to send rare birds to Taiwan in show of gratitude

Staff Writer, with CNA

A pair of red-crowned cranes, a treasured and rare species of bird, will be brought to the country from Japan aboard an EVA Airways flight next month as a token of Japan’s gratitude for Taiwan’s generous aid in the wake of the March earthquake and tsunami.

An EVA spokesperson said the company would dispatch a Boeing 747-400 plane to transport the pair of rare birds, named Big and Grace, from Hokkaido to Taipei on Sept. 14.

It will mark the first time that Japan has ever presented the cranes — its national bird — to a foreign country as a gift, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported.

The Japanese government designated the red-crowned crane as a special gift of nature in 1925. The bird has also been listed as a Grade 1 endangered species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

The two birds will be housed at the Taipei Zoo, which once cared for an injured red-crowned crane from South Korea between 2004 and 2008. During that period, the zoo performed two operations to remove bullets from the bird. The crane was later sent to the Seoul Zoo in South Korea for rehabilitation, before it was to be returned to the wild. The bird died in February 2009 after it was injured while flying during its recovery period.

Japan’s decision to present the cranes is also a recognition of the zoo’s expertise in caring for the species, a zoo official said.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) presented identity cards to six-year-old Grace and nine-year-old Big in a symbolic ceremony on Thursday to express Taipei’s warm welcome to the new guests.

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