Native to Brazil, blue macaws to be conservation ambassadors for their kind; Jurong Bird Park a member of group working to save the critically endangered Spix’s Macaw from extinction.
Image (LEFT): The endangered Lear’s Macaw—on a 10-year loan to Jurong Bird Park—is distinguishable by its yellow teardrop-shaped marking near its beak. Image (RIGHT): The critically endangered Spix’s Macaw—is likely extinct in the wild with just over 150 individuals left under human care worldwide in dedicated facilities. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
SINGAPORE, 3 November 2017 — Singapore is now home to two of the world’s rarest macaw species—the Spix’s Macaw and the Lear’s Macaw.
With the arrival of these conservation ambassadors, Jurong Bird Park will be the only zoological park in the world where visitors will be able to appreciate all three existing species of the blue macaw family—including the park’s existing Hyacinth Macaw collection—and learn about the efforts being made to save them from extinction. The Glaucous Macaw—the last member of the blue macaw family—has not been sighted since the 1960s and is believed to be extinct.
The critically endangered Spix’s Macaw, also known as the Little Blue Macaw, is believed to be extinct in the wild, with the last confirmed sighting in 2005, and there are just over 150 individuals left under human care worldwide. It is the same blue macaw which inspired the Rio movie series, and whose breeding programme is currently managed by Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, in Qatar, the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, in Germany and Fazenda Cachoeira, in Brazil. The Lear’s Macaw is listed as endangered, and has about 1,300 individuals left in the wild. The Hyacinth Macaw is currently in Jurong Bird Park’s collection, and is listed as vulnerable.
Jurong Bird Park received one Spix’s Macaw and two Lear’s Macaws each from Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation and the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots. These birds will be ambassadors for their species, and for the conservation programme that strives to save them from extinction.
Jurong Bird Park is also a member of the Spix’s Macaw Working Group for the recovery and conservation of this species in the wild, along with six other members: Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, a branch of the Ministry of the Environment in Brazil; the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation—Lubara Breeding Centre; the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots; Parrots International and Fazenda Cachoeira.
In 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding was inked between members of the Working Group, with Jurong Bird Park committing to provide support in establishing a breeding and release facility in Brazil—the species’ native homeland—with the ultimate aim of reintroducing the species into the wild. The reintroduction is targeted for 2021 and all the institutions are making a great effort to make this dream possible.
Since then, Jurong Bird Park has been playing an active role in the implementation of the conservation strategy for these species together with the partners, and in preparation for the arrival of the blue macaws, had sent animal care staff to the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots to learn about care and husbandry for these very important feathered friends.
The Spix’s and Lear’s Macaws are on a 10-year loan agreement, with their debut in Jurong Bird Park marking the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations between Brazil and Singapore.
Visitors can look forward to visiting the blue macaws at Jurong Bird Park’s Parrot Paradise exhibit from 22 November onwards. At the exhibit, visitors will also be able learn more about the Spix’s Macaw Conservation Action Plan and Reintroduction Programme, spearheaded and led by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.