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Iraqi Ibises Settling Down in Central China
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Recently two Iraqi ibis couples settled down in the People's Park of Nanchang, capital city of central China's Jiangxi Province. Shaken by booming guns of war on Iraq, the ibis couples have luckily acquire the sanctuary of the People's Republic of China.

Good Friends Who Have Come a Long Way

The two ibis couples, tall, thin and with beautiful pink feather are, according to staff workers of the park, an endangered bird species in the world mainly dwelling in the Arabian Gulf and Caribbean Sea areas.

The purchase of the birds caused a lot of trouble. In February this year, the Nanchang People's Park got to know from related foreign trade departments that Basra City was anxious to sell them in the hope of finding a "safe home" away from the brewing war on Iraq. After negotiation, the park finally bought the birds at the cost of 20,000 yuan (US$2,416.22) each.

In early March, the birds boarded the flight to China and were transported to the northeast China's port of Tianjin in March 10, a few days before, American and British forces began bombing Iraq. On March 24, they arrived in Nanchang.

Courteous Reception

The Nanchang People's Park has collected 100,000 yuan to build a luxury "house" in European architectural style especially for the ibis couples, according to Zheng Yan, general manager of the park.

There are more than 200 rare species of birds living in the park, such as Indian peacocks, Peruvian pelicans, and east African crowned cranes. "Only the ibis couples are accorded such a courteous reception," said Zheng.

To cater to the birds' taste, date palms and small shrimps are transported especially from east China's Zhejiang Province. Cooked corn is also a favorite food of theirs. "We won't treat them shabbily," promised their keepers.

Mr Liu, telephone operator from the park, has been very busy since the arrival of the birds. "Many citizens call the park, inquiring about the ibises' health and diet." Some citizens even want to adopt or donate money for the birds, Liu added.

Wandering "Refugees"

According to Zheng, the ibis cannot stand any noise. "For example, they have poor appetites as soon as they notice that some construction workers are working near the cages. Once their feet are hurt, the whole body will be infected and they will die later," said Zheng.

Speaking of the war on Iraq, home to the ibises, Zheng was very worried. "Many ibises would become casualties of the war." Spring is the season for ibises to breed, and the war not only hurts existing birds, but also means the end of their line of succession, said Zheng.

(China.org.cn translated by Li Jingrong April 2, 2003)

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