Swallow heralds Beijing’s Olympic welcome
The Beijing Bird Watching Society’s (BBWS) World Bird Festival events included an Olympic theme. Among the mascots that will welcome visitors to the 2008 Games in Beijing is Nini the swallow.
"We organised the event, 'to protect swallows in Beijing, to welcome the Olympics', in Daxing Milu Garden," explained Fion Cheung, BirdLife's China Programme Officer. "Visitors could not only watch the Barn Swallow, the character of the festival, and see the end of their southern migration, but also enjoy a variety of activities including a display of artificial nests, and kite-making. The idea was partly to show Beijing citizens how they can take part in conservation activity."
“The idea was partly to show Beijing citizens how they can take part in conservation activity” —Fion Cheung, BirdLife China Programme Officer
More than 40 volunteers helped, and more than 1,200 people took part in the event.
Beijing’s Olympic swallow mascot – known as Nini- reflects the popularity of the swallow shape among Beijing’s traditional kite-flyers. Because of the swallow’s graceful aerobatic flight, Nini has also been chosen to represent gymnastics among the Olympic events.
Nini is one of five mascots, or "Fuwa", along with Beibei the Fish, Jingjing the Panda, Huanhuan the Olympic Flame and Yingying the Tibetan Antelope. Together, the first syllables of their names spell out Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni - Welcome to Beijing.
The event in Beijing was part of the first "China Bird Festival", which is being coordinated by the BirdLife / Hong Kong Bird Watching Society China Programme and supported by the Darwin Initiative.
Nini, the Swallow, one of the Olympic mascots
Children and adults enjoyed the experience of participating in the World Bird Festival events
A display of artificial nests
The Barn Swallow, the main theme of the festival in Beijing
Many children drew swallows on a 1.5m x 20m canvas to show how they feel about swallows and nature