Subject: El Nino:Saving Animals From El Nino's (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 19 Mar 1998 12:31:21 -0500 (EST)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 16 Mar 98 12:22:00 GMT 
Subject: Saving Animals From El Nino's

Saving Animals From El Nino's Fury

 Associated Press Writer
   SAN ANTONIO, Chile (AP) -- Jose Luis Brito rescued The Baby from
a lethal child -- El Nino.
   The Baby is a days-old sea lion, one of hundreds of mammals and
birds Brito has rescued and continues to save from El Nino, the
climate phenomenon that has spread its effects over many parts of
the world in recent months.
   In Chile, El Nino hit by mid-1997 with storms and flooding that
killed some 20 people and caused widespread damage to roads,
bridges, homes and crops.
   Brito is concerned with other victims -- the animals deprived of
their food as a result of the massive emigration of fish caused by
the warming of the sea water.
   "Many species of fish ... virtually disappeared from our
coast," Brito said. "We began finding scores of sea lions
starving on the coastal rocks."
   "Some had just given birth and their babies were dying, too,"
he said at the Natural Science Museum which he directs in this port
city south of Santiago.
   "Some sea lions had the stomach totally empty and several
turtles had eaten plastics bags in desperation," added the
31-year-old self-made sea scientist.
   After burying more than 110 sea lions and disposing of hundreds
of dead birds, Brito decided to act.
   The small garden of his museum is now half covered by a
fiberglass pool to treat sick animals. For weeks, Brito enlisted
the help of the local fire department to clean and fill the pool.
Later, private donations helped him to install a plumbing system.
   At a smaller tank next to the pool, seagulls and several
Humboldt penguins take turns bathing in the salted water.
   The Baby, the small sea lion that has become a pet for Brito and
his volunteers, lives in a cage for dogs -- another donation. Three
times a day, he is freed to sunbathe and is fed through a hose.
   "We had to make a number of calls, including abroad, to figure
out the kind of formula needed to feed these babies," Brito said.
   When The Baby gets old enough to feed by himself, Brito plans to
free him "provided that fish have returned to this area."
   El Nino is not the only enemy Brito faces. Another is his
limited budget: $4,000 a year through a Fauna Recovery Program,
plus $5,500 from private donations which his volunteers collected
in the streets.
   Hiring staff is out of the question, so he enlisted the help of
tens of volunteers -- Boy Scouts, veterinary students and even some
   The results so far are encouraging, he said: hundreds of animals
have been saved along a 63-mile stretch of coastline. The
volunteers have found some animals that only exist in Peru and
   "And we could do better should we have a vehicle of our own,"
Brito said. He now must borrow vehicles from police, firemen or
   "We found six turtles of a rare olive-green type that exists in
Ecuador, but two of them died and the others were saved," Brito
said. "Hundreds of hungry cormorants flew all the way from Peru
andmost died here."
   On a single day, he said, he picked up more than 300 dead
cormorants. But he saved many others.
   "Things are being brought under control in this area, but with
El Nino you never know," Brito said.
   Brito has received requests for advice from colleagues in other
countries on the Pacific coast who are engaging in similar efforts.
   Meanwhile, he continues to use his imagination and the goodwill
of many people to buy the fish and medicines for his many patients.
He often uses the small local radio station to ask for help,
including badly needed syringes and serum.
   He has vowed to keep up his campaign, which he called, "Save
me, I want to live," as long as it's needed.