2011 Endangered Species Day in Puerto Rico
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico- astounded and amazed were brother and sister Nestor and Loriana Torrez-Vélez, when they saw a Puerto Rican Parrot for the first time. Last Saturday, May 21, the Puerto Rico Zoo was different, with new exhibits throughout the park celebrating Endangered Species Day in Puerto Rico, a collaborative effort between the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Puerto Rico Zoo Dr. Juan A. Rivero, managed by the Puerto Rico National Parks Company (CPNPR in Spanish).
Puerto Rican crested tadpoles arrived at the zoo from the southern municipality of Coamo. Puerto Rican harlequin butterflies and their eggs arrived from northern Quebradillas. A Puerto Rican parrot travelled from northern Arecibo and the plain pigeon that lives in the zoo, sheltered away from public view, made an exception and represented the species for all visitors to enjoy during this joyous occasion.
“We created this event for families, to help in the formation of individuals sensitive towards nature and aware of the problems facing our native species today,” said Edwin Muñiz, Field Supervisor of the Caribbean Ecological Services Office of the USFWS.
Several workshops were offered throughout the day. Nature Videographer, José “Pepe” González, presented footage of endangered Puerto Rican birds, documenting never-seen-before behavior and development stages. Herpetologist Alberto Puente shared information about native reptiles and amphibians. USFWS biologists talked about the Puerto Rican parrot and endangered plants.
“One more time, CPNPR and the Puerto Rico Zoo are involved promoting conservation, not only of native species, but also international species. We thank the USFWS for asking us to join in the celebration, which allowed us to build public awareness about imperiled plants and animals and ways to help recover species,” indicated Daniel J. Galán Kercadó, CPNPR Executive Director.
At the event, the Caribbean Ecological Services Office, recognized four local vets for their dedication and commitment to rescuing and rehabilitating endangered species: Dr. Debra Moore; Dr. Elena Benson; Dr. Antonio Rivera; and Dr. Luis Figueroa, Director, Veterinarian and General Curator of the Puerto Rico Zoo.
Two organizations, the Manatee Conservation Center and the Puerto Rico Zoo Rehabilitation Center for Marine Mammals received institutional awards. Dr. Juan A. Rivero, founding member of the Puerto Rico Zoo was recognized for scientific contributions he made to conserve native reptiles and amphibians, his devotion to native tree frogs, and pioneering captive breeding of the Puerto Rican crested toad.
Diego Irizarry, attended the event. Diego is one of two Puerto Rican children that participated in the Endangered Species Art Contest organized by the Endangered Species Coallition that was announced earlier this year. Both Diego and Izabella Cristina Cestero Fernandez reached the semifinals.