BEIJING – Government officials, conservationists, animal rescuers and celebrities joined in a celebration today to mark the ten-year anniversary of the (BRRC; www.brrc.org.cn
)—China’s only specialized raptor rescue and rehabilitation facility. Established a decade ago by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW; www.ifaw.org
) and located at Beijing Normal University (BNU), BRRC not only saves individual raptors, but educates people about threats to wildlife and promotes policies and actions that advance the conservation and welfare of animals.
Participants recounted the development of BRRC filled with heart-wrenching stories about the plight of animals, especially those that fall victim to human activities, and the heroic efforts by people to rescue and rehabilitate the animals.
“Birds of prey are top predators in the sky. Their protection is very important to biodiversity conservation,” said China Academy of Science academician and ornithologist, BNU Professor Zheng Guangmei. Noting that of the over 3,300 birds rehabilitated at BRRC, 54 percent were able to regain health and return to the sky, Professor Zheng added, “BRRC applies advanced animal welfare standards to rescue and rehabilitation of birds of prey, making a significant contribution to wildlife conservation in China.”
“Knowing that the raptors will have the best care and individualized treatment at BRRC gives peace of mind to wildlife law enforcement officers who are fighting illegal wildlife trade,” said Wang Minzhong, Director of Beijing Wildlife Protection Station and a staunch supporter of BRRC since its inception. “The live animals we confiscate from illegal trade and captivity have suffered enough sickness and illness caused by people.”
“BRRC is the true embodiment of IFAW’s belief that the welfare of individual animals, their populations and their habitat are inherently linked,” said Fred O’Regan, President and CEO of IFAW, who joined in the celebration in China.
“BRRC is much more than just a raptor hospital. It has become a symbol of the growing awareness about wildlife protection in China,” said Yuan Xikun, a well-known artist, sculptor, and a member of China’s political consultative committee. Named by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as a patron of the arts and environment, Mr. Xikun is also a wildlife champion and an IFAW supporter. At the ceremony he unveiled his latest work — a sculpture of a golden eagle in honour of BRRC, which will be permanently installed at BNU.
Accepting the statue on behalf of BRRC, Professor Zheng expressed his hope that the golden eagle currently recuperating at BRRC will be healthy and strong enough to fly in the sky.
He exclaimed, “Wildlife belongs in the wild.” The sentiment was shared unanimously.