Spix's Macaw Project Update

Received from Martin Guth (ACTP) on 2nd June 2013

The Spix's Macaw is one of the most endangered animals on the planet due to the historical destruction of its habitat (Caatinga) and intense capture for illegal trade. Its population has been drastically reduced and the last known specimen disappeared in 2000, leaving only the animals kept in captivity. Therefore, the species has become a global symbol of the importance of biodiversity preservation. The Action Plan for Spix’s macaw conservation is the strategy of the Brazilian Government to re-establish the species in its historical distribution area. Plans are in action to achieve the goal of increasing the managed population in captivity as one genetically and demographically viable population.

 Work is also under way to protect and recover the species habitat in preparation for planned releases between 2017 and 2021. In 2012 the Project ‘Ararinha na Natureza’ was established as a part of the Action Plan. This Project is implemented by CEMAVE (The National Center for Bird Conservation Research) a Research center of ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation - ICMBio), together with the holders (Al-Wabra Wildlife Preservation; ACTP - Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots; Nest and Lymington Foundation), SAVE Brasil, FUNBIO and is funded by Vale and the holders.

In May 2012 a meeting was held between project partners during which new protocols for the Captive Program were drafted and these will be continually refined as needed in response to improved knowledge and experience.   In this meeting the Management and Genetic Consultant were chosen and future pairings started to be planned. Once we had all the necessary documents (compliance terms to be in the captive program, loan agreements, CITES and Agriculture Department permits etc…) to transfer the birds the international shipments started.

So far this year a total of eight Spix’s macaws have been transferred internationally as part of on-going efforts to improve the reproductive success of this critically endangered species. In early February, two birds (1male, 1 female) were transferred from Loro Parque Foundation (LPF), Tenerife – Spain, to the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP) near Berlin, Germany where after serving time in quarantine, they have now been introduced to their respective mates. These two birds are on breeding loan from the Brazilian Government to ACTP. The transfer was undertaken and funded by ACTP following the captive protocol in collaboration with CEMAVE.

In late February, two female Spix’s macaws were transferred from ACTP to Brazil. The ownership of one of these birds has been passed by ACTP to Brazil, whilst the other is on breeding loan. The transfer was a collaborative effort involving ACTP, Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP) and Nest, as well as ICMBio, CEMAVE and MAPA (Ministry of Agriculture, livestock and supplies). The transfer of these two young birds bred by ACTP in 2011 was undertaken and funded by ACTP. Upon arriving to Brazil, the birds were transferred by MAPA staff to a federal quarantine facility on Cananéia Island, state of São Paulo. Brazilian based staff from AWWP’s “Caatinga Project” took responsibility for the care of the two birds during their 15 days spent in quarantine before transferring them to the privately owned and operated Nest breeding facility which is also located in the state of São Paulo.

In early April, four Spix’s macaws (1 male, 3 females) were transferred from LPF to Nest following the same quarantine procedures as the two birds transferred in late February. The four birds travelled from Tenerife to Brazil accompanied by three AWWP staff (funded by AWWP) and a representative from CEMAVE/ICMBio, as a part of Project ‘Ararinha na Natureza’ (funded by Vale ). The six new arrivals to Nest join an existing group of 4 Spix’s macaws (2 males, 2 females) which were transferred there from São Paulo Zoo in June 2012. AWWP provides the Nest breeding facility with technical expertise and support in the form of two permanent Brazilian based staff members living and working on-site. It is hoped that this collaborative effort will soon result in the same kind of breeding success as regularly experienced at ACTP and AWWP.

Currently there are 79 (32 males, 47 females) Spix’s macaws managed in the International Studbook, held in 5 institutions, however, only three institutions have pairs for breeding. Although no longer a participant in the captive breeding program, LPF retains one female Spix’s macaw which has not been transferred because of health reasons.




Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, Qatar



NEST, Brazil



Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, Germany



Lymington Foundation, Brazil



Loro Parque Foundation, Canary Islands -Spain



Latest News

  • Tuesday 9th July 2024

    There is a short interesting article in the July 2024 issue of the German magazine "Papageien" about the setting up of a nature conservation centre for Spix’s Macaws  in the São Paulo zoo. Under the guidance of biologist Fernanda ... Read More »


 " Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret "

( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)

Horace (65-8 BC)