3/7/08

Jemima Parry-Jones and the International Centre for Birds of Prey

Do you wish your life was more like this:

"It was always fun to unlock the door each morning and night and be greeted by the Twit Twooooo of Mugwort, the female Tawny Owl..."

and this:



I do. I first heard of Jemima Parry-Jones on BBC Radio 4 (they do fantastic nature/science pieces and you can listen online). She was in the process of moving 187 birds of prey, 70 different species, from her National Birds of Prey Centre in Gloucestershire, England to what was to be their new home the International Center for Birds of Prey in South Carolina. That was in 2004. Moving that many raptors at once, plus her six dogs from the UK to the US was obviously a HUGE undertaking.

Just listening to the details stressed me out. The responsibility of ensuring a pair of Steller's Sea Eagles survived the drive to the airport, an international flight, and period of quaratine seemed panic inducing. So many things could go wrong and nobody wants sea eagle blood on their hands.

The move went well however and by the time the birds were out of quarantine and settled in their new home only a few had not survived. This success was not an accident a lot of planning and expertise went into the move. Jemima Parry-Jones, MBE has been working with raptors most of her life, has authored books on falconry and raptors, managed her family's raptor center since 1982, and has one of the world's largest and most diverse collections of birds of prey. The title of MBE, (Member, British Empire) was awarded to Parry-Jones in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, June 1999 for her services to bird conservation.

Parry-Jones spent 3 years in South Carolina and the new center never opened. Things went sour; apparently she was expected to turn over control of her birds to the center. Parry-Jones' fame had been used to gain donations and attention for the new center but according to her new website she was treated with "staggeringly vindictive behaviour from the Center in South Carolina."

What do you do when you sell your family land/raptor center, pack up your life, 6 dogs, and the fate of 187 birds of prey, move to another country and it all turns out to be a gigantic, horrible mistake? Go on a shooting rampage? Form a militia of falconers? Nope you just build more crates and pack everybody back up, fly back to England, wait out quarantine, get a new facility and open your own damn International Centre for Birds of Prey.

The International Centre for Birds of Prey plans to open in 2008
The Conservation of Birds of Prey and their Habitats through: Public Education; Captive Breeding; Treatment and rehabilitation of wild injured birds of prey; Research for understanding, health and the conservation of all birds of prey.

photos from International Friends of Jemima Parry-Jones

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