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Saturday, July 7, 2018

puppetry ~ feeding a Javan green Magpie

This photo went viral on Western media ~ ‘ feeding a bird ’ .. ..

Puppetry (Bommalattam)  is an ancient form of Indian art ~ its popularity  has faded in recent decades. A puppet is an object, often resembling a human, animal or mythical figure, that is animated or manipulated by a person called a puppeteer.  In old times, it was used to tell interestingly the great epics of ‘Ramayan, Mahabarath’ and other stories.   Remember Shankar’s ‘Indian’ movie – the scene  where Sukanya would run a puppet show to a group of people rekindling the spirit of  freedom struggle.  Of the many, Kathputli is a string puppet theatre, native to Rajasthan state.   Being a string marionette, it is controlled by a single string that passes from the top of the puppet over the puppeteers.  The puppeteer uses movements of their hands, arms, or control devices such as rods or strings to move the body, head, limbs, and in some cases the mouth and eyes of the puppet. The puppeteer often speaks in the voice of the character of the puppet, and then synchronizes the movements of the puppet's mouth with this spoken part. The actions, gestures and spoken parts acted out by the puppeteer with the puppet are typically used in storytelling.

Magpies are birds of the Corvidae (crow) family. The black and white Eurasian magpie is widely considered one of the most intelligent animals   and one of the only non-mammal species able to recognize itself in a mirror test.   The Javan green magpie (Cissa thalassina) is a passerine bird in the crow family, Corvidae. This critically endangered species is endemic to montane forests on the Indonesian island of Java.  In the wild,  it is stated that they naturally dye themselves bright green by eating green insects that contain a yellow pigment called lutein. When they're kept in cages, their colour can change from green to bright blue due to inadequate diet !!

Zookeepers in Prague have turned into puppeteers in an effort to save the critically endangered Javan green magpie, reports MailOnline and other media. It is reported that Zoo officials saved one precious egg after the parents threw a second egg out of their nest. The magpie chick which hatched a month ago is being kept in a box and fed using a puppet that imitates a parent bird.

Bird keeper Antonin Vaidl says the puppet is being used to ensure the bird will be capable of breeding, which it won’t be if it gets used to people.  Vaidl says the puppet doesn’t have to be a perfect imitation of an adult bird because the baby responds to certain signals, such as a red beak, black patches around the eyes and a bright green background.

The green magpies are one the most endangered birds on Earth. It's estimated only about 50 of them are living in the wild while another 50 are in captivity in few zoos. In Europe, about 30 of them are in Britain and Prague.  A zoo in the British city of Chester brought six pairs of them from Asia in 2015, giving one pair to Prague and another to a zoo in Jersey as part of a coordinated effort to save the species."To save it from extinction ... that's the reason we have been doing this," Vaidl said.

Interesting and so much research goes in to such things !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th July 2018.

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