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£12.00 pledged of £500 goal
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By Sophie Gellender
£12.00 pledged of £500 goal
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About this project

I am currently a student at The University of Winchester studying Broadcast Television & Media Production. 

For my Final Year Major Project (my course equivalent to a dissertation and 20% of my overall degree mark) I will be following the story of a UK based Burmese Cat breeder, Chrissy Russell, who is fighting to save the breed from extinction.

I have owned Burmese cats my entire life, and there is something truly special about them, hence my passion for this subject.

The Burmese cat breed has been proven to have an incredibly small gene, its now incredibly inbred due to Champion cats only being bred with other champion cats. 

This has resulted in kittens being born with various conditions that cause them to suffer, including Heart disease, FIP, Diabetes, dermatosparaxis (stretchy skin - Ehlors-Danlos Syndrome) and flat chested kitten syndrome. 

Professor Leslie A Lyons (from the University of Missouri) warned that the breed is facing extinction, and that if the breed were wild it would be extinct by now. This is why outcrossing is VITAL. The Burmese cat is found in large numbers in Thailand and these cats can be imported to breed with UK Burmese and help diversify the gene pool again, which will start to save the breed and stop the suffering.

I need donations to be able fly to Thailand with Chrissy Russell and film her journey. Chrissy originally visited Bangkok & the Buddhist temple Wat Taphan which is also in Bangkok as she wanted to see the source of her traditional Thai Burmese that she would be using to breed with her cats Ayshazen Burmese in the UK. The Cats at the temple originally needed urgent care and she helped nurse them back to health. Chrissy now makes trips from the UK to Thailand to continue to help out the monks who care for the cats, and in return to bring pure Thai Burmese back to the UK for outcrossing and increasing the gene pool to save the Burmese.

Whilst following her journey, I will also be involved in helping to save the cats who need urgent care, as well as filming the work she does.

The final documentary I aim to enter in film festivals and share it as far as I possibly can, to spread the word about the issue facing the Burmese breed.  

Risks and challenges

Travelling abroad will always present a risk, but thankfully the Burmese breeder I will be travelling with has travelled here various times before and knows a few of the local residents.

Risks also include various Burmese cat breeders disagreeing with the film and believe the outcrossing blood is dirty, which could cause controversy, but I aim to avoid this as much as possible. My main concern is helping the cats.

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