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American is inspired by spoonbills

June 24,2017
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Tyler Rasch observes spoonbills using a telephoto lens. [KANG JUNG-HYUN]
“Spoonbills remind me of cute idiots when I observe how they act,” says Tyler Rasch. “I really think they will be a lovable character when made into an animated character.”

Tyler Rasch, an American known for his Korean fluency, has recently fallen in love with spoonbills. He attended a World Wildlife Fund’s observation event on spoonbills at Gangwha Island, Incheon, earlier this week. WWF, a Swiss non-profit organization established in 1961, has over 5 million sponsors from about 100 countries and works on helping endangered species peacefully coexist. Rasch has been serving as an honorary ambassador of WWF’s Korean branch since May.

“I came up with various ideas after I became the honorary ambassador and one of them was to create a character that can be used in animation or children’s books,” he said. “Cute animals like pandas can attract many people’s attention. People will find spoonbills to be friendly since they will also be depicted with unique Korean characteristics like rice paddies and mud flats.”

In Korea, spoonbills are designated as natural monument number 205. During their breeding season, from April to June, they grow golden fur on their chests and begin to lay eggs in areas like Gangwha, where there are many mud flat and rice paddies.

“I heard that spoonbills tend to travel with white herons,” said Rasch. “White herons let spoonbills know when there are threats since spoonbills put their heads in the water most of the time. White herons, on the other hand, steal fish that spoonbills find. Aren’t they really good partners?”

Rasch is from the U.S. state of Vermont, which is 74 percent forest. Rasch has been interested in environmental issues most of his life.

“There needs to be structural measures set by both the government and companies to deal with environmental problems,” he said. “So customers need to make wise choices.”

He explained the relationship between customers and companies through his own experience.

“Many publishing companies offered me book publication but it didn’t work out well since I asked them to use Forest Stewardship Council paper [which is environmentally-friendly,]” he said. “They said it would hurt the cost competitiveness. If customers choose to spend their money on companies with environmental issues in mind, companies might change their business models.”

He also suggested eating less meat. “Producing meats creates at least 10 times more greenhouse gas than that of vegetable,” Rasch, a vegetarian, said.

Rasch said he has tons of ideas.

“I have an idea of making a weekend variety show that will talk about how the lives of animals and people are related to the ecosystem,” he said. “Does anyone want to take me up on my idea?”

BY SEO JUNG-MIN [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]