Philippine Volcano Expected to Erupt, IFAW to Evacuate Animals

Dec 29, 2009, 09:00 ET from International Fund for Animal Welfare

YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., Dec. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As residents of the Philippines brace for the imminent eruption of the Mayon volcano, officials have asked the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to help evacuate affected animals. At this time, there are an estimated 2,000 head of water buffalo, 1,000 head of cattle, 5,500 pigs, 19,000 poultry, and 4,600 dogs living near the volcano and in need of immediate evacuation.

For the last two weeks, the 8,070-foot Mayon volcano has been spewing smoke, rock, and burning mud. The volcano recently pushed a cloud of ash nearly a mile into the air and geologists point to the volcano's continuous lava flows, sulphuric dioxide emissions, and frequent tremors as indications that an eruption is looming.

"The goal of the Governor of Albay Province, Joe Salceda, is that this disaster will have zero human fatalities. To achieve this, he recognizes animals must also be taken into consideration. Many residents refuse to leave without their animals." said Ian Robinson, IFAW's Emergency Relief Director, "It's an enormous task but we're currently in the process of evacuating all the animals near the volcano -- an area with a circumference of 74 kilometers and containing 3 cities, 5 municipalities, and 35 rural county areas."

Starting December 14, residents near the volcano began a mandatory evacuation. A reported 45,366 people have been evacuated from their homes. Troops are enforcing a 24-hour curfew to prevent residents from returning. IFAW's role is to assure the animals are also evacuated and set up in shelters to be fed and cared for adequately.

The Mayon volcano, located 310 miles south east of Manila, has erupted more than 40 times in the last 400 years, last in 2006. Its deadliest eruption in 1841 killed more than 1,200 and buried a nearby town. Though difficult to predict, experts expect the coming explosion to be smaller than 1841 and less significant than the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 which killed 800 people. The alert for the volcano is currently at Level 4. Level 5 indicates a dangerous eruption is underway.

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

As one of the world's leading animal welfare organization, IFAW has representation in 16 countries and carries out its animal welfare work in more than 40. IFAW works from its global headquarters in the United States and focuses its campaigns on improving the welfare of wild and domestic animals by reducing the commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting animals in distress. IFAW works both on the ground and in the halls of government to safeguard wild and domestic animals and seeks to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well-being of both animals and people. For more information on IFAW, visit

SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare