Prince Charles wears albatross-feather cloak after warning of the birds' extinction

Britain's Prince Charles wore a cloak made out of albatross feathers Wednesday, three days after he made an impassioned plea to save the massive birds from extinction. The crown prince appeared unaware that the garment was made of albatross feathers when it was draped over his shoulders while visiting a Maori weaving exhibition in Auckland. No birds were killed to make the Maori cloak the feathers were gathered from a nesting colony, said weaver Iri Morunga. Adding to the cloak's exotic qualities were feathers from two other birds: the flightless native weka and the pukeko, or swamp hen. But neither are endangered, and the feathers were plucked from birds run over by vehicles. "They are from roadkill," said Kelly Walker, another weaver who'd worked on the cloak. Saving the albatross a bird Charles called the "great ocean traveler" was high on the prince's agenda when he visited one of their nesting colonies near the southern city of Dunedin on Sunday, squatting next to an albatross rearing a fluffy white chick. While there, the prince, a staunch conservationist, wondered aloud if it would take a "dodo-like disappearance of this noble winged creature" to awaken people to the threat to the seabirds, which fly vast distances around the world. The prince said the birds' survival was threatened by long-line fishing and other poor marine harvesting practices. Speaking Wednesday at a civic reception in the northern city of Auckland, the prince won warm applause when he said the albatross was "now a symbol of the way in which we manage, or mismanage, the entire marine environment." "That bird all 21 species of the albatross is now under threat of extinction. If that happens we hardly have the right to call ourselves civilized," he told an audience of more than 300. A spokesman for the prince said later that no bird had been harmed in making the cloak, and that Charles had returned it to its weavers after wearing it "in a ceremonial way" during the visit. The spokesman said on condition of anonymity that he was unable to confirm whether the prince knew albatross feathers had been used in making the cloak. On Wednesday day four of Charles' five-day visit to New Zealand well-wishers congratulated him on his impending marriage to Camilla Parker Bowles. "Come back with Camilla," one woman called out as the prince left a meeting of business supporters. He was scheduled to fly to Fiji late on Thursday for a short visit before returning to Britain. Associated Press

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