Freedom: Five Captive Puerto Rican Parrots to be Released into the Caribbean
National Forest – El Yunque
May 3, 2004
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
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.
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.
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.
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.