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Turkish PenguinsISTANBUL: January 24, 2018. Turkish Cargo has successfully relocated 20 Humbold penguins, threatened with extinction due to climate change, from the Riga Zoo in Latvia to the Public Oceanic Aquarium in China.

The airline has also transported six lion cubs, accompanied by keepers and a veterinarian, to Dakar, Bangladesh and 14 adult lions to China.

The penguins, a protected species listed by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), flew via Istanbul accompanied by a veterinarian and animal welfare personnel.

Founded in 1948 and based near Geneva, the IUCN is composed of both government and civil society organizations and is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

In November last year, Turkish Airlines announced it had joined 40 companies and NGOs in signing the 'United for Wildlife' Buckingham Palace Declaration pledging zero-tolerance of illegal wildlife trafficking.

The group has committed to receive and exchange credible information about high-risk routes and methods of transportation; to develop a secure system for passing information about suspected illegal wildlife trade from the transport sector to relevant Customs and law enforcement; and to notify relevant authorities of cargoes suspected of containing illegal wildlife and their products and, where able, refuse to accept or ship such cargoes.

Turkeish LionsThe Declaration was signed in Istanbul by the airline's deputy chairman Bilal Ekşi who said: "With this declaration, we as Turkish Airlines are not only underlining one of the most important environmental issues of our times, trafficking of wildlife, but we are also setting an example of responsibility. We hope that we are contributing to the level of awareness on the issue and smoothing the path for legal enforcement procedures against the traffickers."

Welcoming Turkish Airlines' commitment, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac noted at the time: "The global connectivity built by the aviation industry is being exploited by traffickers, but through coordinated action with our industry partners, and assisting the proper authorities, we can help to end this dreadful trade. We welcome Turkish Airlines' commitment to join this fight, symbolized in its signature to the Buckingham Palace declaration."

Turkish Cargo says it uses IATA's Live Animal Regulations for the acceptance, storage and shipment of live animals and adheres strictly to its documentation, packing, labeling and marking guidelines.

In a related move, the airline has begun operating a weekly B777 freighter from Istanbul to Miami every Sunday via Madrid with a return via Houston the following day. The service, with a newly-delivered aircraft, adds over 100 tonnes to existing weekly belly capacity via the airline's passenger services to Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

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