September 25, 2022

Cayman Islands turtle farm releases white crown pigeons

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dsc_0099Just one day after the US Elections, Cayman Turtle Centre held some ‘elections’ of its own: visitors were invited to place their names in a special ballot box, in Reception, and then, on two days running, Geddes Hislop, Curator of Terrestrial Exhibits drew their names out. The lucky winners — six on one day and seven on the following day — were allowed to release a total of thirteen White Crown Pigeons. The birds, an indigenous forest species, have been bred by Cayman Turtle Centre over a period of ten years, and many have been released to the wild. The program began just after Hurricane Ivan destroyed so much of their natural habitat, and at that time were considered a threatened species. But as a testament, perhaps, to the programme’s success, White Crown Pigeons are no longer on that list.
The winners were called out right after the shark feeding, and led to the aviary where the pigeons were carried in individual cardboard boxes to the release site — a quiet spot next to the Butterfly Garden. There, the excited winners carefully placed their boxes down on the ground before waiting for Mr. Hislop to call for them to open their boxes, and release the pigeons to freedom. It was wonderful to see the pigeons flying high into the sky, to begin their new life.
“For this Release, instead of doing our usual “soft” Release method of just opening the cage door and letting the birds fly out on their own, we have decided this time to give our park visitors an opportunity to participate in our local conservation effort,” Mr. Hislop explained. “People have taken part in releasing turtles, so this is a chance for them to release one of the White Crown Pigeons too.”
“Although they are no longer considered ‘threatened,’ White Crown Pigeons have been made a protected species recently under the new conservation law — so that means that our contribution has become even more significant. We released 16 earlier this year, so this is the second release.”
11-year old Hannah was one of the lucky draw winners. Her smiling face told the story of how she felt participating in such a beautiful and important ecological event: “I liked to see it fly away — it was going to go and eat some fruit,” she said.
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