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Photo above of  pedigree Burmese cats at a luxury hotel on the shores of Inle Lake in eastern Shan State. They are known for their sleek good looks, alluring eyes and sunny disposition, but one group of "Burmese" are virtually unknown in modern Myanmar -- the country's namesake pedigree cats (AFP Photo: So Than Win). 

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World

Burmese cats pounce back in Myanmar

6/09/2012
Kelly Macnamara
AFP News agency, Agence France-Presse

They are known for their sleek good looks, alluring eyes and sunny disposition, but one group of "Burmese" are virtually unknown in modern Myanmar -- the country's namesake pedigree cats.

Once believed to be the favoured pet of royalty and guardians of temples, the Burmese cat had vanished from its Southeast Asian ancestral homeland until enthusiasts decided to return them.

Yin Myo Su, who took on the project with the aim of preserving the country's heritage as it emerges from military rule, has installed a growing family of the pedigree cats in a house on the shores of Inle Lake, in eastern Shan State.

The hotelier hopes to raise the profile of the breed among Myanmar people and even gave one to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi -- what seemed like a sure-fire strategy to give the cats a badly needed public relations boost.

But the Nobel Peace Prize winner's notoriously possessive dog became "jealous" of the feline intruder and Suu Kyi was forced to send the cat back.

"So now we are taking care of her cat at home as well! In case one day she can take it back with her," Yin Myo Su told AFP.

From just seven cats imported in 2008 -- some sourced from Britain's Harrods department store -- the project now has 50 moggies living around Inle, including nine kittens, and has become a tourist draw.

A further 17 have been given to cat lovers in Shan State and the main city of Rangoon.

Yin Myo Su -- who has pursued the project despite a slight allergy to felines -- gives neutered Burmese cats to interested local people free and charges foreigners 500,000 kyats ($580). 

"They like to be cuddled all the time," she said at the cats' home, the Inthar Heritage House, as a purring chocolate brown feline wound itself around her feet before collapsing onto its back for a tickle.

The idea of repatriating Burmese cats came from the China Exploration and Research Society (CERS), whose activities have included tracing a new source of the Yangtze river and promoting a yak cheese cottage industry in the Chinese province of Yunnan.

According to the non-profit group, Burmese cats -- which share characteristics with other regional breeds such as the Siamese -- have existed in mainland Southeast Asia for over a thousand years.

The breed was diluted out of existence by an influx of other types of cats to the region in the 19th and 20th century, with only a handful of purebreds taken to Britain during colonial rule, which ended in 1948.

Much of the modern breed has descended from a single female cat, Wong Mau, who was taken to the United States in 1930, according to world pedigree organisation The International Cat Association.

The short-haired cats have golden eyes and come in a range of colours from silvery blue to cream, although rich brown is the primary colour.

"We are quite happy with the reproduction because we got (mostly) original colours," said Yin Myo Su, who runs the upmarket Inle Princess hotel

She has two of the pedigree moggies at home in a menagerie of animals that she calls a "mini zoo", including ducks, pigs, goats, geese and a monkey they have to keep hold of because it was "a gift from a monk."

The hotelier is involved with an array of preservation projects and said she was keen for the house to be more than just a picturesque cattery.

"It's hard for people to have a house in this region and I am building all this for cats? No way," she said, adding that a restaurant, serving traditional recipes, was added to cover the $800-a-month cost of looking after the cats

Among her other projects, Yin Myo Su is building a centre for the study and preservation of fish native to Inle Lake, but she said her staff have become sceptical about her motives for the new aquatic endeavour.

They laugh at me and say: 'Is it cat food?'

(Source: Bangkok Post, World, Burmese cats pounce back in Myanmar, 6/09/2012, AFP News agency, Agence France-Presse, link


Cat Vocabulary

Burmese cats - a breed of cats that are "descendants of one female cat called Wong Mau,  brought from Burma to America in 1930... originally, Burmese cats were exclusively dark brown (sable), but years of selective breeding have produced a wide variety of colours. ... Burmese cats are known for being sociable and friendly with humans, as well as very intelligent. They are also very vocal, and often call to their owners," Thai: ศุภลักษณ์ RTGS: Suphalak meaning fortunate, beautiful, and splendid appearance (See Wikipedia and Google Images)

pounce - to jump on something (example: the cat punced on the mouse and ate it)

Burmese cats pounce back in Myanmar

known for - to famous for this reason, well-known, make people know about it
sleek - smooth, shiny and lying close to the body, and therefore looking well cared for มันขลับ
known for sleek good looks

alluring - makes you want to have something, to be with or be near it
alluring eyes  

disposition -
mood, attitude
sunny disposition - happy (not easily angered)

virtually
- almost เกือบจะ แทบจะ
virtually unknown

pedigree -
controlling which cats make babies so that the babies meet certain breed standards 
pedigree cats

namesake -
has the same name; named after it
the country's namesake pedigree cats.

They are known for their sleek good looks, alluring eyes and sunny disposition, but one group of "Burmese" are virtually unknown in modern Myanmar -- the country's namesake pedigree cats.

royalty - the people who belong to the family of a king and queen บุคคลในราชวงศ์
the favoured pet of royalty

guardian - someone who guards and protects a place (from thieves and other dangers)
guardians of temples

ancestral
- of their grandparents, of people in their family who lived in the past
ancestral homeland

vanished - disappeared, go away, no longer exists
vanished from its Southeast Asian ancestral homeland

enthusiasts
- people who do some activity in their free time as a hobby

Once believed to be the favoured pet of royalty and guardians of temples, the Burmese cat had vanished from its Southeast Asian ancestral homeland until enthusiasts decided to return them.

aim - purpose; goal; the thing you hope to achieve by doing something  เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
heritage - the art, buildings, traditions, and beliefs that a society considers important to its history and culture มรดก ประเพณีที่ตกทอด
the aim of preserving the country's heritage
the country emerges from military rule
Inle Lake, in eastern Shan State.

Yin Myo Su, who took on the project with the aim of preserving the country's heritage as it emerges from military rule, has installed a growing family of the pedigree cats in a house on the shores of Inle Lake, in eastern Shan State.

hotelier -
a person who owns or manages a hotel
breed - raise animals for the purpose of producing more animals เพาะเลี้ยง

raise the profile - make more famous and well-known
raise the profile of the breed among Myanmar people

icon - someone who is very famous and who people think represents a particular idea ดาราหรือบุคคลผู้มีชื่อเสียงที่เป็นตัวแทนของสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่ง
democracy icon
democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi

strategy - a plan to achieve long term goals ('strategy' gives the big picture, 'tactics' the details)
a sure-fire strategy - a way of doing something that will be successful for sure

boost - to increase; to strengthen เพิ่ม; ทำให้มีกำลังมากขึ้น
give the cats a badly needed public relations boost

The hotelier hopes to raise the profile of the breed among Myanmar people and even gave one to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi -- what seemed like a sure-fire strategy to give the cats a badly needed public relations boost.

notoriously - famous in a bad sort of way
possessive -
wants to have something only for themselves
notoriously possessive dog

jealous - unhappy and angry because someone has something or someone you want หึงหวง, หึง
feline - related to cats
intruder - someone who enters a place without permission บุกรุก
the feline intruder

But the Nobel Peace Prize winner's notoriously possessive dog became "jealous" of the feline intruder and Suu Kyi was forced to send the cat back."So now we are taking care of her cat at home as well! In case one day she can take it back with her," Yin Myo Su told AFP.

moggies
a tourist draw - something interesting that many tourists will come and see (thus increasing tourism business)

From just seven cats imported in 2008 -- some sourced from Britain's Harrods department store -- the project now has 50 moggies living around Inle, including nine kittens, and has become a tourist draw. A further 17 have been given to cat lovers in Shan State and the main city of Rangoon.

allergy - a medical condition in which you become sick or your skin becomes covered with red marks as a reaction to something you eat, breathe or touch อาการแพ้ ภูมิแพ้
felines - cats
a slight allergy to felines

neuter - to make so that the animal cannot have babies; to remove the reproductive organs (penis, womb) for making babies
neutered cats

local - in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about ท้องถิ่น
interested local people

charges (noun) - amounts of money paid; a payment that has to be made for something เงินที่เรียกเก็บ
charge (verb) - a business requesting a certain price for a good 
charges foreigners 500,000 kyats ($580) 

Yin Myo Su -- who has pursued the project despite a slight allergy to felines -- gives neutered Burmese cats to interested local people free and charges foreigners 500,000 kyats ($580). 

cuddle - hug, wrap your arms around someone
they like to be cuddled all the time

wound -
wrap around something
wound
itself around her feet

tickle -
to lightly touch the skin to make a person laugh

collapse -
fall down
collapsing onto its back
for a tickle

source - the place or person something comes from or starts at, or the cause of something ต้นกำเนิด, แหล่งกำเนิด
tracing a new source of the Yangtze river

"They like to be cuddled all the time," she said at the cats' home, the Inthar Heritage House, as a purring chocolate brown feline wound itself around her feet before collapsing onto its back for a tickle. The idea of repatriating Burmese cats came from the China Exploration and Research Society (CERS), whose activities have included tracing a new source of the Yangtze river and promoting a yak cheese cottage industry in the Chinese province of Yunnan.

profit - money that you make from selling goods and services after all your costs have been paid กำไ
non-profit - when the goal is not to make a profit (but instead to help people, for example)
non-profit
group

share - to have or use something at the same time as someone else ใช้ร่วมกัน
share characteristics with other regional breeds such as the Siamese

According to the non-profit group, Burmese cats -- which share characteristics with other regional breeds such as the Siamese -- have existed in mainland Southeast Asia for over a thousand years.

dilute -
diluted out of existence

breeds - different types of animals สายพันธุ์
the breed was diluted out of existence

century
- a period of one hundred years ศตวรรษ
the 19th and 20th century

influx
an influx of other types of cats to the region in the 19th and 20th century

purebreds
colonial rule

handful
- a small number (could fit in your hand) จำนวนน้อยมาก
only a handful of purebreds taken to Britain during colonial rule

female - of a woman สำหรับผู้หญิง
female cat

descend from
descended from a single female cat

range - a number of different things that are of the same general type ขอบข่าย, ประเภท
come in a range of colours

rich
- interesting, with a lot of different qualities, experiences or events อุดมไปด้วย
rich brown

primary - first and most important
rich brown is the primary colour

The breed was diluted out of existence by an influx of other types of cats to the region in the 19th and 20th century, with only a handful of purebreds taken to Britain during colonial rule, which ended in 1948. Much of the modern breed has descended from a single female cat, Wong Mau, who was taken to the United States in 1930, according to world pedigree organisation The International Cat Association. The short-haired cats have golden eyes and come in a range of colours from silvery blue to cream, although rich brown is the primary colour

reproduction - 1. babies; 2. the process of animals or humans making more animals and humans 

upmarket - higher quality for higher price, for rich customers
upmarket hotel

menagerie
menagerie of animals

mini - small
mini zoo

"We are quite happy with the reproduction because we got (mostly) original colours," said Yin Myo Su, who runs the upmarket Inle Princess hotel. She has two of the pedigree moggies at home in a menagerie of animals that she calls a "mini zoo", including ducks, pigs, goats, geese and a monkey they have to keep hold of because it was "a gift from a monk. 


preservation - keeping something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed การสงวน
preservation projects

array - a group, a collection, many things  
an array of preservation projects

keen - very interested in this, eager or wanting to do something very much สนใจ, ใจจดใจจ่อ สนใจอย่างยิ่ง
keen for

picturesque
picturesque cattery

"No way,
" she said  - meaning: I will not do that, for sure

traditional - things (clothes, music, customs, etc.) that have been part of a country or society for a long time
a restaurant serving traditional recipes

The hotelier is involved with an array of preservation projects and said she was keen for the house to be more than just a picturesque cattery. "It's hard for people to have a house in this region and I am building all this for cats? No way," she said, adding that a restaurant, serving traditional recipes, was added to cover the $800-a-month cost of looking after the cats.

native - lives at or was born in a particular place ชาวพื้นเมือง
fish native to Inle Lake

staff
- workers, employees พนักงาน

sceptical
- not believing easily, tending to not believe; having doubts about something that other people think is true or right สงสัย
motives - the reason for doing something (taking an action)
sceptical about her motives

endeavour - to try very hard to do something ความพยายาม บากบั่น
aquatic endeavour
the new aquatic endeavour
laugh at me - look down at, think that someone is stupid or ridiculous

Among her other projects, Yin Myo Su is building a centre for the study and preservation of fish native to Inle Lake, but she said her staff have become sceptical about her motives for the new aquatic endeavour. They laugh at me and say: 'Is it cat food?'

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