New wings for World of Birds

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

A YEAR ago, it seemed al­most cer­tain that the World of Birds, which pro­vides a haven to thou­sands of birds and an­i­mals, would close down.

But now, in what has been de­scribed as a “Christ­mas mir­a­cle”, the an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary has turned from the brink of bank­ruptcy to pay a third of its R1.3 mil­lion debt and to fly for yet an­other year.

The “mir­a­cle” was largely thanks to the gen­eros­ity of Capeto­ni­ans, and in par­tic­u­lar a lo­cal artist who sold her stu­dio and do­nated the money to the sanc­tu­ary, where at least 200 new furry and feath­ered friends – many of them in­jured or aban­doned – are brought in by the pub­lic ev­ery month.

Hen­drik Louw, park man­ager, said they hoped to pay the re­main­der of their loan be­fore the end of the tourist sea­son.

“It feels like a Christ­mas mir­a­cle to ev­ery­one at the park. Last year we were de­pressed and clos­ing the park seemed all but cer­tain. But thanks to the gen­eros­ity of all Capeto­ni­ans, and an es­pe­cially touch­ing sac­ri­fice from our artis­tic bene­fac­tor, things have changed for the bet­ter dra­mat­i­cally. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’ve been given what feels like a sec­ond life and plan to make the most of it.”

The sanc­tu­ary – home to more than 200 species and 3 000 an­i­mals and birds – faced one of its grimmest times in its 38year his­tory at the be­gin­ning of the year. Racked by mount­ing debt and a large drop in vis­i­tors, it had a monthly over­head of R500 000 and a R1.3m loan from the bank was quickly ex­hausted.

But me­dia cov­er­age, in­clud­ing an ar­ti­cle in the Week­end Ar­gus, re­newed in­ter­est in the park. Hundreds of do­na­tions poured in and the sale of the artist’s stu­dio helped to put the park on the road to re­cov­ery.

The artist, who wants to re­main anony­mous, said she was so touched by the Week­end Ar­gus ar­ti­cle and the care shown for the an­i­mals that she did what she could to help.

Many of the an­i­mals at the World of Birds are in­jured and aban­doned and could not sur­vive in the wild.

A large num­ber are en­dan­gered species, such as the Cape vul­ture.

Wal­ter Man­gold, World of Birds owner, said if the an­i­mals could be given qual­ity of life, they should be al­lowed to live – in con­trast to one be­lief that an­i­mals must die if they can­not be cared for.

The park has asked the pub­lic to con­tinue their sup­port sim­ply by buy­ing tick­ets and en­joy­ing a day with fam­ily and friends among the weird and won­der­ful crea­tures.

kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: AN­DREW IN­GRAM

SAFE: Pel­i­can chicks at World of Birds.

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