Bird flu worries ground Tower birds
From The Washington Post:
For 350 years, coal-black ravens have wandered freely around the Tower of London's grassy inner courtyard as cawing barometers of the monarchy's vitality -- if the ravens ever die or leave the tower, the legend goes, the tower and the kingdom will fall. Now the fear of bird flu has done what Luftwaffe bombings, blizzards, assassinations and abdications could not, forcing the ravens to be moved inside in isolation for their own safety and to hedge Britain's bets on the future of the crown. "I talk to them and they're calm," said Raven Master Derrick Coyle, in his navy Tudor bonnet and beefeater outfit as he stood inside the 11th-century fortress on the Thames, one of the world's leading tourist attractions. Four times a day, Coyle said, he dons a full-body protective suit, steps carefully into a disinfectant foot wash and then offers raw meat, vitamins and comforting words to the six ravens -- Branwen, Hugine, Munin, Gwyllum, Thor and Baldrick -- who now live in eight-foot-long cages in one of the towers. snip "Thank goodness they are still on these grounds," said Margaret Hopkins, a retired schoolteacher visiting the tower. She said she wasn't really superstitious but thought it best not to cross a 17th-century decree by King Charles II to always keep six ravens at the tower, lest great harm descend.