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Cincinnati participates in successful avian release.

The second historic release of blue-and-gold macaws (Ara ararauna) to the protected Nariva Swamp on the island of Trinidad took place in December 2003. Twelve birds were successfully released and all have been sighted in the area, including two bonded pairs.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden has been actively involved in the reintroduction of the blue-and-gold macaws into their native Trinidad since 1993. The macaw was extirpated from the island in the early 1960s due to habitat alteration and poaching for the pet trade. In 1993, the Wildlife Section of the Forestry Division of Trinidad and Tobago, the Centre for the Rescue of Endangered Species of Trinidad and Tobago (CRESTT), and the Cincinnati Zoo embarked on a mission to restore the species.

After several attempts to obtain chicks through captive breeding, a pilot study on the reintroduction of wild-caught blue-and-gold macaws was implemented in 1999. Fourteen birds were released over a three-month period into the protected Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary on the east coast of Trinidad. Nine of those birds are not only surviving, but continue to reproduce, providing the foundation for reestablishing a wild population. Over a three-year period, twelve surviving chicks were produced.

In September 2003, twelve females and eight males were placed in a secure pre-release fight enclosure for acclimation to the Wildlife Sanctuary. Villagers constructed the enclosure under the supervision of Trinidad's Forestry Division. The birds were cared for and provided with 24-hour security by villagers, who also monitored the birds for their first reintroduction. Villagers were also trained to collect and record behavioral data such as eating habits, flight capability, flock socialization, pair bonding, and aggression. Twelve additional birds were released in December 2003 to provide new genetic stock, which will increase the genetic diversity in the birds of Trinidad. The remaining eight birds will be cared for until their release in the spring.
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Title Annotation:News from Zoos
Publication:Endangered Species Update
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Words:310
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