Taiwan’s ‘selfie queen’ Gigi Wu dies after ravine fall

Taiwan's "selfie" queen is pictured along a lake in this photo she posted on Instagram. (Gigi Wu via Instagram)
Updated 22 January 2019

Taiwan’s ‘selfie queen’ Gigi Wu dies after ravine fall

  • The social media star fell down a ravine in Taiwan’s Yushan national park on Saturday
  • She used a satellite phone to tell friends of the fate that had befallen her

TAIPEI: Taiwanese rescue teams were trying Tuesday to retrieve the body of a dead hiker who became famous on social media for taking selfies on top of mountain peaks dressed in a bikini.
Gigi Wu — dubbed the “Bikini Climber” by fans — used a satellite phone on Saturday to tell friends she had fallen down a ravine in Taiwan’s Yushan national park and badly injured herself.
Rescue helicopters struggled to reach her because of bad weather and officials eventually located her lifeless body on Monday.
“The weather conditions in the mountains are not good, we have asked our rescuers to move the body to a more open space and after the weather clears we will make a request for a helicopter to bring the body down,” Lin Cheng-yi, from the Nantou County Fire and Rescue Services, told reporters.
Officials said Wu had told friends she was unable to move the lower half of her body after a fall of some 20-30 meters (65-100 feet) but was able to give her coordinates.
She is the latest in a string of social media adventure seekers who have met an untimely end.
Last week, the bodies of an Indian couple were found at the bottom of a popular overlook in California’s Yosemite National Park after hikers alerted officials to their camera equipment at the top of the cliff.
New Taipei City native Wu, 36, built up a sizeable social media following through photos of herself at the top of mountains dressed in bikinis.
She usually wore hiking clothes to scale the mountains, only changing into a bikini once she reached the top.
In an interview with local channel FTV last year, she said she had scaled more than 100 peaks in four years.
“I put on a bikini in each one of the 100 mountains. I only have around 97 bikinis so I accidentally repeated some,” she said.
When asked why she did it, she replied: “It just looks so beautiful, what’s not to like?“
While Taiwan is a largely tropical country, it boasts a spine of towering peaks down its middle that regularly top 3,000 meters. In the winter, temperatures routinely drop well below freezing on the mountain slopes.
Lin said their top rescue team hiked for 28 hours to reach the body, only sleeping for three hours because they knew temperatures were rapidly plunging.


Tower of London ravens re-adapt to life after lockdown

Updated 19 October 2020

Tower of London ravens re-adapt to life after lockdown

  • The 1,000-year-old royal fortress was closed due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions
  • This raised fears the birds — known as the guardians of the Tower — would fly away to find another place

LONDON: Chris Skaife has one of the most important jobs in Britain. As Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, he is responsible for the country’s most famous birds.
According to legend firmly rooted in Britain’s collective imagination, if all the ravens were to leave the Tower, the kingdom would collapse and the country be plunged into chaos.
Coronavirus lockdown restrictions saw tourist attractions across the country close their doors, including the imposing 1,000-year-old royal fortress on the banks of the River Thames.
That left Skaife with an unprecedented challenge of how to entertain the celebrated avian residents, who suddenly found themselves with no one to play with — or rob food from.
It also raised fears the birds — known as the guardians of the Tower — would fly away to try to find tasty morsels elsewhere, and worse still, risk the legend coming to pass.
There are eight ravens in captivity in the Tower of London: Merlina, Poppy, Erin, Jubilee, Rocky, Harris, Gripp and George.
A royal decree, purportedly issued in the 17th century, stated there must be six on site at any one time but Skaife said he keeps two as “spares,” “just in case.”
They are free to roam the grounds but to prevent them from flying too far, their wings are trimmed back slightly.
Back in March when lockdown began, Skaife — who is in his 50s and a retired staff sergeant and former drum major in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment — was furloughed.
But he still came to work to look after his majestic feathered charges, rotating feeding and caring duties with his three assistants.
“During that period of time, the ravens didn’t actually see anybody,” he told AFP.
“There were slight changes that I noticed. For instance, I had to keep them occupied without the public being there (and) there were less things for them to do.
“So I gave them enrichment toys that would help them enjoy their day.”
With no people around, he put balloons, ladders and even mirrors in their cages to keep them entertained, and hid food around the Tower grounds for them to find.
Breakfast time involves Skaife, in the distinctive black and red uniform of the “Beefeaters,” distributing a meal of chicks and mice, which the ravens cheerfully devour.
Skaife’s favorite is Merlina, he reveals with a smile.
She has become an Internet favorite from his frequent posts and videos of her on his Instagram and Twitter accounts, which have more than 120,000 followers.
Once feeding time is over, he opens the cages on the south lawn to allow them to stretch their wings.
The Tower reopened its doors on July 10 but the pandemic has had a devastating effect on visitor numbers.
Some 60,000 people visited the Tower every week in October 2019 but it is now only 6,000, according to Historic Royal Palaces, which manages the site.
During the three-month national lockdown, Skaife said the ravens were given more freedom to explore other parts of the Tower.
But to be doubly sure they didn’t fly off completely, their wings were clipped back further.
The birds are now kept in their cages more often to make sure they eat enough, as there are slim pickings from the Tower’s rubbish bins because of the reduced footfall.
“I don’t particularly like doing it,” said Skaife.
He says the ravens may be kept in cages but the Tower is their real home.
“So, I would never want to keep a raven in an enclosure.”
Now, as life returns to a semblance of normality, the ravens are re-adapting to seeing more humans again and their old routine.
Skaife has looked after the ravens for the last 14 years, tending to their needs out of clear affection but also out of a sense of historic and patriotic duty.
“Of course, we don’t want the legend to come true,” he said.