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January 20, 2002

IBRRC on Animal Planet’s "Wild Rescues"

On Tuesday, January 29, 2002 at 10 PM, Animal Planet’s series, Wild Rescues, will feature IBRRC's Director, Jay Holcomb, and members of International Bird Rescue Research Center’s (IBRRC) oil spill response team as they assisted in the largest wild rescue ever attempted the summer of 2000.

(Check the Animal Planet website)

On June 23 of that year, the “MV Treasure,” a bulk ore carrier, sank off the coast of South Africa between Dassen and Robben islands. The ship spilled over 1,300 tons of bunker oil, which immediately oiled thousands of African Penguins, an endangered species which breeds there. An additional 19,500 non-oiled penguins were captured and trucked to Port Elizabeth, where they were released with the hope that by the time they swam back to Cape Town, the oil would have dissipated. The world watched as Pamela, Peter and Percy, three penguins fitted with satellite-transmitter devices, swam home.

Within ten days of the Treasure spill, 20,251 oiled African penguins had been admitted into the rehabilitation center in Cape Town. The operation was managed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), whose Oiled Wildlife Response Team is directed by IBRRC. With financial help from IFAW, a giant rehabilitation center was created in an old railroad yard. Thousands of volunteers from around the world were taught how to wash, feed and rehabilitate the birds.

The massive effort paid off. Over 90% of the 20,251 oiled African penguins treated, including several thousand of chicks which would surely have died, were successfully rehabilitated and released. The Animal Planet segment features footage from the spill and interviews with Holcomb and members of his team. Viewers should check local listings for times.

In February 2002, IBRRC celebrates its 31st anniversary. The non-profit organization was born out of a devastating spill that occurred when two tankers collided beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971. Little was known about oiled bird care at that time and despite the courageous, attempts of hundreds of volunteers, only 300 of the 7,000 birds collected survived.

Holcomb, a veteran of over 100 oil spills, headed up the search and rescue program during the Exxon Valdez Spill (1989) in Prince William Sound, the largest of its kind ever attempted at that time. He travels the world teaching, training and helping other countries set up oiled wildlife response protocols.

IBRRC’s headquarters in Cordelia is located at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center, 4369 Cordelia Road. A second a center in San Pedro, California, is managed by IBRRC and is also part of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, a series of 24 centers funded by the California Department of Fish & Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) and managed by UC Davis. Since November 24, 2001, the Cordelia center has cared for over 1,200 birds oiled in the San Mateo Mystery spill, the source of which remains unknown.

Both centers operate 365 days a year on a non-profit basis caring for thousands of birds that are injured and orphaned or oiled.

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Media contact:

Karen Benzel

Office: (831) 622-7588

E-mail: karen@ibrrc.org


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