Staff at Chester zoo are celebrating after rearing chicks from the endangered great green macaw (Ara ambiguus).
Scientists believe the global population is now estimated to be fewer than 2,500 and it is classified as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Now the numbers have further increased after two great green macaw chicks were born in the zoo for the first time.
The adult pair (male Royan ‘Roy’ and female Dresden ‘Dee’) only arrived in Chester from a zoo in France in September 2019 and nesting activity started early in 2020.
The chicks which hatched in April have spent the last three months hidden away inside their nest under the care of new parents Royan and Dresden.
Conservationists who have been carefully monitoring their development say they are doing well on a diet of nuts, seeds and fruit.
The youngsters, who developed wing feathers large enough to fly after more than 90 days in the nest, will remain close to their parents as they learn the behaviour needed for adulthood.
In the wild, the colourful birds live in the lowland forests of Central and South America, ranging from Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama to Northern Colombia. There is also a tiny population in Ecuador, thought to consist of just 30 – 40 individuals. Scientists believe the global population is now estimated to be fewer than 2,500.
In a statement to Newsflash, Zoe Sweetman, the Assistant Team Manager of Parrots and Penguins at the zoo, said: “It’s been a wonderful experience to watch the youngsters develop – from tiny, naked and helpless chicks when they first hatched to the huge, beautiful birds we see now. New mum Dresden and dad Royan have been model parents, gently preening and feeding the chicks with their enormous bills and guarding them closely.
“It’s an incredible achievement for the whole zoo team to have bred these iconic birds for the first time and delightful to share and celebrate the news with our colleagues at the Macaw Recovery Network in Costa Rica, who we work closely with to conserve these precious birds in the wild.”
The main threat to the bird in the world is the loss of habitat as its forest home is increasingly disappearing for logging to provide agricultural land.
The zoo said that huge areas of forest have been converted to banana, pineapple and palm oil plantations or cleared for cattle ranching.
The birds’ brightly coloured plumage also means they are high value on the illegal pet trade – the world’s fourth-largest international crime – and many are trapped, captured and then sold on the black market.
Andrew Owen, Curator of Birds at the zoo, added: “Global populations of the great green macaw have been decimated by more than 50 percent in just the last three generations.
“They are now considered very rare in four of the six countries that they are found. To have successfully reared these magnificent birds, just a few months after the parents arrived here in Chester, is therefore really wonderful news.
“We hope these stunning new arrivals will prove to be vital additions to the European endangered species breeding programme – which is working to prevent the extinction of these beautiful birds.”
Chester Zoo also supports and carries out parrot conservation activities in the Cerro Blanco Protective Forest in Ecuador, where a tiny population of great green macaws may still survive.
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