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June 10, 2010

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Fowled-up campus ruffled

AT Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Minhang campus, the hottest student issue might be the birds that have invaded their eco-friendly campus.

To furious victims of the birds' abundant droppings, it's high time the pests were removed. The large waterfowl scream loudly at 5am every morning, eat fish from nearby rivers and defecate on whomever is unlucky to be walking below.

But other students come to the birds' defense. They blame the school for cutting down small forests for a new baseball field in 2008, which they say demolished the birds' habitat and forced the creatures to move to new homes around student dormitories.

A school official, surnamed Wang, said it was wrong to blame the baseball field. He said the birds were simply attracted to the leafy environment of the campus, which is 35 percent covered in greenery.

Whatever the cause, many students of the university are having a tough time living with the birds, which have made nests and starting raising their young just a few steps away from dormitories since the beginning of May.

"Welcome to the zoo, and please watch your steps," said Li Xinyin, a senior student of the university.

He was right. The streets as well as with sign boards, grass and bicycles were all covered by birds' white droppings, making the scene look snowy on a summer day.

Some female students have to use an umbrella or choose another path to avoid being attacked by the "aircraft." Li said some of the birds were as big as a basketball.

The streets got very smelly until the rain yesterday brushed away some of the bird droppings, but still some streets around the dormitory were painted white by the remainder.

The students have even named the white street, now famous across the city: "Tianshi Road," a Chinese word for the "road of angels." But another Chinese word with the same pronunciation stands for the "road of falling feces from the sky."

"We are still looking for proper methods to balance the problem to ensure students' living quality without damaging the environment," said Wang, the school official.


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