Philippine eagles issued passports to fly to Singapore

June 5, 2019 - 5:55 PM
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Sambisig the eagle
Sambisig, a 17-year-old captive-bred female Philippine eagle, is one of the raptors that will be sent to Singapore under the Wildlife Loan Agreement between the DENR and the Wildlife Reserves Singapore. (DENR via Philippine Eagle Foundation/Released)

Two Philippine eagles carried passports when they were flown to Singapore to underscore their national identities as part of an international wildlife loan agreement.

The eagles are Geothermica, a 15-year-old male, and Sambisig, a 17-year-old female. Both are considered ambassadors for Philippine biodiversity.

While they originally reside at the Philippines Eagle Center in Davao City, the government decided to breed them at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park. The species is critically endangered that population has to be increased.

Under the international Philippine Eagle Loan Agreement with Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the eagles are expected to stay in the city-state for two years.

However, Philippine Eagle Foundation executive director Dennis Salvador said that the loan agreement can last for about 10 years and may be renewed.

The eagles and its offsprings will be owned by the Philippine government.

“(The agreement) serves as an insurance policy for our eagles, so that if something bad happens to our captive population here, we have a set of gene pool outside of the country that we can rely on and continue propagating,” Salvador said in an interview.

The eagles were flown to Singapore on June 4, Tuesday through Philippine Airlines and issued Philippine passports by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Philippine Eagle passports
Symbolic passports issued for two Philippine Eagles by the Department of Foreign Affairs. (DFA via News5)

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Meynardo Montealegre said the effort was to emphasize the eagles’ Philippine identity since they will also represent the country while abroad.

“The passports underscore the Philippine identity of both eagles, doing their share in representing the country abroad, and that they remain the property of the Philippine government,” he shared during the send-off ceremony.

Filipinos on social media are quite amused with the eagles’ passports.

“Eagles need passport to fly hmm,” one witty tweet goes.

“They’re the first passport-holders I’ve seen that look cool in their passport photos. I hope they can have many baby eagles while they’re away,” another user tweeted.

A passport is an official travel document that certifies the identity and nationality of the holder for purposes of international travel. It serves as proof whenever one needs to verify the country of citizenship.

It is legally defined as a “document issued in the name of a government vouching for the citizenship of an identified individual.”

A passport also grants the holder “safe passage and protection in a foreign land,” according to a passport-curating website.