With fewer humans to fear, flamingos flock to Albania lagoon

In this Saturday May 2, 2020 photo flamingos fly in Narta Lagoon, about 140 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of the Albanian capital of Tirana. (AP)
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Updated 10 May 2020

With fewer humans to fear, flamingos flock to Albania lagoon

NARTA: Home confinement rules have upset some people in Albania, but humans getting their wings clipped during the coronavirus pandemic has allowed flamingos and other birds to flourish in a coastal lagoon by the Adriatic Sea.
Local officials and residents say the flamingo population is up to about 3,000 at Narta Lagoon, an important waterfowl habitat that greater flamingos returned to in recent years after a long absence. Bird watchers also have noticed more pelicans, herons and other species this spring at the 28-square-kilometer (10-square-mile) lagoon, which is 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of Tirana, the capital.
“Isn’t that beautiful to see fearless flamingos all around?” Dhimiter Konomi, part of a local group that manages commercial fishing in Narta Lagoon, said as the big, long-necked birds stood in the shallow water.
Operations halting at a nearby saltworks and reduced human activity of all types during the pandemic explains why birds are flocking to the lagoon, said Nexhip Hysolokaj, a regional biodiversity expert. Flamingos are “a very delicate species,” and not having vehicles or visitors around suits them, he said.
“They have found food and calmness, and that has likely helped them increase the numbers,” Hysolokaj said.
Researchers plan to study the flamingos to see if the coronavirus-induced calm is conducive to establishing the lagoon as a place where they can nest and breed.
Konomi says a lagoon crowded with feathered life is a treasure that could boost tourism.
But Hysolokaj is less keen to attract conventional tourists to the lagoon, which is part of a protected landscape of sand dunes, wetlands, islands and beaches that supports diverse fauna as well as birds. He described it as the “lung” of Vlora, the nearest city.
“There should be a stable but alternative tourism, naturally letting campers come, beaches used, with environmental biking, educational paths and more because it’s so close to Vlora,” Hysolokaj said.


‘Tiger King’ star loses animal park to nemesis he tried to kill

Updated 02 June 2020

‘Tiger King’ star loses animal park to nemesis he tried to kill

  • Joe Exotic’s feud with Baskin captivated millions in a Netflix documentary that became a sensation during the early stages of the lockdown
  • A judge in Oklahoma ruled that the ownership of Exotic’s 16-acre land in the state must be transferred to Baskin after a protracted legal wrangle

NEW YORK: The star of hit Netflix series “Tiger King” will have to hand over the ownership of his famous zoo to the nemesis he tried to have murdered, a court has ruled.
Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is in jail after he was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January for the attempted murder of Carole Baskin.
His feud with Baskin, an animal sanctuary owner, captivated millions in the Netflix documentary that became a sensation when it was released in March as America went into coronavirus lockdown.
Baskin had for years accused Exotic of abusing the animals, including tigers, in his park.
Exotic said Baskin was trying to destroy his business, and their dispute ended up in a years-long legal battle.
On Monday, a judge in Oklahoma ruled that the ownership of Exotic’s 16-acre land in the state must be transferred to Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue in Florida.
The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park will have to vacate the premises, “including removal of all zoo animals,” Judge Scott Palk said in the decision.
In 2013, a Florida court ordered Exotic to pay Baskin $1 million because his company had used logos and images similar to those of Big Cat Rescue.
Exotic tried to get off from paying by shielding his assets, leading to this second lawsuit, with the judge ruling in Baskin’s favor.
“Tiger King,” a seven-part documentary, was one of Netflix’s most-watched shows.
The platform announced in late April that in one month, 64 million subscribers had seen all or part of the series.
Exotic, 57, has requested a pardon from President Donald Trump.