Wednesday, February 2, 2011

San Francisco Bird Sanctuary to Focus On Effort to Save Rare Birds

Michele Raffin with one of Pandemonium Aviaries' birds

All around the world, birds have captured our imaginations for generations. They all come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. But it is this beauty which has made many victims of the exotic pet trade. This lucrative business has deprived several species of their natural habitats, and into people's houses. Some species, such as the hyacinth macaw, have even been pushed to the brink of extinction. In order revive such populations, captive-breeding efforts were made. However, when most people think of captive-breeding, zoos come to mind. However, there is a small but growing movement of aviculturists who breed rare birds for conservation purposes. One of these people is based in San Francisco. Her name is Michele Raffin, and she is in the front lines of breeders who believe that such birds will die both in captivity and in the wild if not bred for conservation purposes. Ms. Raffin operates a facility known as Pandemonium Aviaries, which surprisingly happens to be her home! It consists of more than fifty enclosures varying in size from half a bathroom, to a small house. There are several hundred birds across 39 species, and they are all fed a special diet consisting primarily of fruits and vegetables bought from organic markets. In addition to that, Ms. Raffin also has a team of volunteers who help out by documenting every aspect of the birds' behavior. But what really makes Ms. Raffin's facility unique is its goal, which is to establish healthy captive populations that could someday be reintroduced into the wild.

As a resident of Bay Area, I'm very proud to see what commitments and goals Ms. Raffin has regarding the global bird population. Unlike other aviculturists, her mission is to breed rare birds for conservation purposes and that is something we all need in order allow our feathery friends to fly free. I feel that Ms. Raffin is a perfect inspiration for anyone, who wants to help out in saving and protecting various rare species of birds. I also feel that other bird breeders should follow her example, in order to help save the world's bird population. Many of these animals have been threatened by deforestation, poaching, and the exotic pet trade. Some even play key roles in their native ecosystems. Without them, different terrestrial biomes would be badly affected. I sure hope that Ms. Raffin will one day achieve her goal in reintroducing a healthy population(s) of birds in their natural habitats.

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