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Flight to Freedom: Five Captive Puerto Rican Parrots to be Released into the Caribbean National Forest – El Yunque



May 3, 2004

Fernando Nuñez-Garcia, Rio Grande Field Office in Puerto Rico, at 787-887-8769, ext. 223



One of the 10 most endangered birds in the world, the Puerto Rican parrot once was abundant throughout Puerto Rico and its offshore islands. Now only 23 to 36 wild parrots remain deep within the tropical rainforest. Media are invited to see and photograph the first taste of freedom for five young captive birds from the Luquillo Aviary in the Caribbean National Forest.


May 13, 2004, at daybreak. The release cage will be opened before dawn, and the birds will be allowed to exit on their own. All of the birds probably will leave the cage within 30 to 60 minutes after daybreak. Media representatives will be picked up from the Service’s Rio Grande Field Office at 3 a.m. The hike up the trail through the rainforest begins at 3:30 a.m.


David P. Flemming, Ecological Services Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Regional Forester of the Caribbean National Forest; staff from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel with the Puerto Rican parrot program will be available to answer questions.


Caribbean National Forest.


Fernando Nuñez-Garcia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rio Grande Field Office in Puerto Rico, at 787-887-8769, ext. 223, to coordinate attendance and transportation to the release site.


The hike in the rainforest could take 25 minutes to an hour, depending on hiker’s physical condition. Participants will be walking uphill on rough terrain over roots alternated by muddy sites. Strong, sturdy boots or shoes are necessary. Long-sleeved shirts and pants are recommended because there are a few plants that could cause allergies. Raingear and water resistant equipment are also recommended. There are no poisonous or dangerous animals in the forest.


The goal of the Puerto Rican parrot release program is to augment the critically low wild parrot population of 23 to 36 birds with new individuals and genes to reduce the possibility of inbreeding. Currently, there are more captive-bred parrots (147) than there are in the wild. Eventually, several other populations will be established in Puerto Rico. For example, next year captive parrots will be released in the karst region. The new populations will reduce the possibility of losing the entire wild flock to hurricanes or diseases. The program’s ultimate goal is the recovery of the Puerto Rican parrot. One positive step is the planned relocation of the Luquillo Aviary which was originally an old Army building and is in need of extensive repairs. The estimated cost of the project is $2 to $3 million.

For more information on Puerto Rican parrots: B-Roll is available.


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at or

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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