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Beavering away for a good cause

By Xing Wen | China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-01 07:55
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At 7, Chu Wenwen got a gift from her father, a single-lens reflex camera. She has since taken innumerable pictures of wild animals, including beavers, sables, snow leopards, argali sheep, lynxes, golden eagles and brown bears, while following her father in the wild.

It was routine for her to carry heavy photographic equipment on her shoulder and hide in snow, waiting for hours to snap some rare species of animal in its natural environment.

At that time, she thought that the photos she took would help to raise people's awareness of the need for animal protection.

"However, I gradually found that it's hard for people to feel a connection with a species if they only see photos or documentaries," she says.

In 2017, after completing a postgraduate program at Beijing Forestry University, where she studied wildlife conservation and utilization, she decided to go back to Altay to plan out projects that might enable a larger group of people to develop an emotional bond with wild animals. It was then that she got the idea for her charity projects.

She recalls that, one day, they rescued a beaver that had been badly injured in a fight with rival beavers over an available habitat. She planned to livestream its recovery online.

The way the beaver continuously gnawed at carrots looked so adorable that a large number of viewers fell in love with the adorable rodent. Unfortunately, the beaver was unable to be saved and died, which broke the hearts of its many online fans.

The poor creature did not die in vain, however.

"On the first day after its death, the Beaver Canteen project received a donation of around 800,000($120,080) yuan from people online," Chu Wenwen says.

An unbreakable bond had been created, and the first step on a meaningful journey toward greater public understanding of these industrious creatures was taken.

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