Photos: Loro Parque.
Updated 15 February 2019: We’ve been following this story for almost a couple of years now, and at last Loro Parque is able to say that it is extraordinarily proud that its success with Lear’s Macaw has not only brought the bird back from the brink of extinction but that the Fundación has been able to start its programme of release to the wild in Brazil. The video below, released by the park, shows how the birds started to be acclimatized to their new free environment before they even left Tenerife, living in a mock-up of their natural territory and being provided with the food – and the need to search for it – that they will have to find for themselves in Brazil. This gradual and supported reintroduction is known as “soft release”, and is used to allow the birds to be as prepared as they can be for their life of freedom in their natural habitat, no longer at extreme species risk.The Lear’s Macaw is still “endangered” but it’s no longer on the brink of being lost for ever. No wonder Loro Parque is proud!
Updated 25 August 2018: After bringing the Lear’s macaw back from the brink, Loro Parque says that it’s delighted that the Foundation has managed not only to bring the species from “critically endangered” to “endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List, but is also releasing six birds bred in Tenerife into the wild in Brazil. The birds have already left the island for the new life of freedom in a species success story that mirrors the Foundation’s work with the blue-throated macaw. The following video has been released by Loro Parque with an English text bar.
Original post 7 June 2017: Loro Parque Foundation has said that its breeding programme for Lear’s macaw (Anodorhynchus leari), an endangered species from north Brazil, continues to be successful, and that the Puerto de la Cruz facility is the the only zoological center in Europe to achieve this. LPF says that the Brazilian government first sent a pair of Lear’s macaws for reproduction to Loro Parque in 2006, and since then 30 have been hatched in Tenerife, nine of them already having been returned to Brazil.
Whatever else people feel about Loro Parque, and there are always strong feelings about the Orca facility, and some people dislike the ideas of zoos altogether, their work with birds is exceptional, and when it comes to macaws and parrots, their acclimatization has been fundamental in order to achieve such a successful breeding programme. LPF says that the imitation of their natural habitat, the good climate and the food from the licuri palm tree – the same they feed on in Brazil – have been the keys of producing such good results.
Lear’s macaws suffer illegal trade with the capture of chicks, and mature birds are not protected and indeed are harrassed by agriculturalists. Their habitat is also increasingly degraded by the use of land for cattle, and by indiscriminate collection of leaves and fruits of the licuri palm.
Along with its work on the Blue Throated macaw, LPF has almost single-handedly brought these birds back from the brink of ‘critically endangered’ status. The Lear’s macaw is still categorized as a species under threat, but so far nearly €500,000 has been invested in the protection of the birds in their natural habitat through the Foundation in addition to work done in Puerto de la Cruz itself. The objective remains to situate the Lear’s macaw as an unmanaged species, reducing the threats it faces and restoring the wild population, as well as protecting the palm tree which is essential for the long-term recovery of the species.