U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              Vicki M. Boatwright or

April 6, 1995                      Diana M. Hawkins


                    TO JOSE L. VIVALDI AVIARY

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources have transferred 13 of the Puerto Rican parrots (Amazona vittata) in the Service's captive breeding facility in the Caribbean National Forest (Luquillo) to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources' Jos‚ L. Vivaldi Aviary at the Ro Abajo Commonwealth Forest. The transfer took place in late March.

Birds produced through captive breeding in both the Vivaldi and the Luquillo aviaries will eventually be released or fostered into wild nests to increase the vigor and genetic diversity of the wild population. Chicks produced from both aviaries will also be used in the future to establish new wild populations in areas historically occupied by Puerto Rican parrots.

The Ro Abajo Commonwealth Forest is located in the north-central highlands of Puerto Rico. Before the 1900s, this reserve was home to the Puerto Rican parrot, also known by its Tano Indian name, "Iguaca." In 1899, Hurricane San Ciriaco destroyed a large portion of the Ro Abajo Forest, and the Puerto Rican parrot population never fully recovered. A small population survived until the 1920s. Affected by the pet trade, hunting, logging, and a massive hurricane, the Puerto Rican parrot was extirpated from Ro Abajo in 1928. The wild population is now confined to the Caribbean National Forest in the Luquillo Mountains. Currently, only 42 Puerto Rican parrots fly free in the wild.

Captive breeding is essential for the recovery of the Puerto Rican parrot, according to the Service's Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Coordinator, Agustin P. Valido. Research on captive breeding of the parrots has been ongoing since 1968. Recovery experts have agreed that there is only one universal population of Puerto Rican parrots residing now in three locations, i.e., 42 birds in the wild and a total of 69 in the two captive breeding facilities. Having only one population puts the species at risk in event of a catastrophic occurrence.

The parrot transfer to the Vivaldi Aviary provides an additional step to strengthen the Puerto Rican parrot captive breeding program. In 1993, twelve Puerto Rican parrots were transferred to the Vivaldi Aviary. This marked the beginning of the parrot captive breeding program in a Commonwealth facility and provided a second captive breeding site where parrots could survive if the Luquillo facility was affected by disease or other natural disasters. Last year, several additional Hispaniolan parrots (Amazona ventralis) were transferred to the Vivaldi Aviary to enhance the aviary's surrogate capabilities.

"We are hopeful that both the Luquillo and the Vivaldi aviaries will produce enough parrots to soon repopulate their natural environment," said the Honorable Pedro A. Gelabert, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. Valido added, "The Service is delighted to see our parrot recovery partner strengthening its role in the captive breeding of the species. We are positive that this cooperative effort with the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources will enhance recovery of the Puerto Rican parrot in the wild."

X X X Release #95-29

1995 News Releases

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