Published On: November 18, 2015

“Rio” Hero Will Really Return to Brazil

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The government has announced a plan to breed and raise as many as 150 Spix macaws, a bright blue bird that is native to Brazil but has not been seen in the wild in 15 years. The raising of the birds will be done by breeding the famous blue macaws that still exist. Only 90 of these birds remain in existence, all of them in zoos around the world.

As many as 150 blue macaws will be bred specifically for the purpose of releasing them into the wild, with the hopes of repopulating the species in its natural habitat. The initiative calls for releasing the birds in a wildlife reserve and taking steps to ensure their survival.

The story of a domesticated Spix macaw found in the United States inspired the animated film Rio. The story of the movie involved the bird’s return to Brazil.

macawThe plan to breed new blue macaws entails close cooperation among zoos in Brazil, Germany, and Qatar that together hold the roughly 90 surviving birds of the Cyanopsitta spixxi species, the Environment Ministry said. The institutions plan to exchange birds to form breeding pairs with the aim of assembling a large group at a wildlife reserve in Brazil where they will be prepared for release.

Eichler Vercillo, director of the Environment Ministry’s Species Department, said the plan is to release the first birds starting in 2017 under a program to assess their adaptation to life in the wild. A bird center will be established near Curaçá, a municipality in Bahia. This region in Bahia is abundant in caatinga, a type of desert vegetation favored by the macaws.

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