The first sensational breeding of Lear's Macaw in Europe

A press release on breeding successes with the Lear's Macaw  issued by Loro Parque Fundacion on 8th June 2007

Dr. Biol. anim. Matthias Reinschmidt, Curator Loro Parque

On Monday, May 14 it finally happened. Long and anxious waiting finally came to an end. Beneath the warm plumage of its adoptive parents, an experienced breeding pair of Green-Winged Macaws (Ara chloropterus), a young Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchusleari) hatched for the first time in Europe. The chick, weighing only 20 grams, was immediately accepted by the foster parents and since then has been carefully tended by them and is growing well. Now, aged three weeks, it is time to present it to the public, which is unfortunately only possible with photos at present, as the breeding duties of the foster parents cannot be disturbed. Now the young Lear’s Macaw, named “Edward”, weighs 495 grams - 24 times more than his hatching weight three weeks ago. 

After three weeks, during a brief photo-shoot, the precious young bird was fitted with a closed leg-ring to identify it properly in future. After that little Edward was put back in its protective nest-cavity, where the foster parents were already waiting impatiently. A further seven to eight weeks will  pass until the little Lear’s Macaw will start to fledge and will leave his nest den. Until then this sensational young macaw will be reserved exclusively for the curators’ observations.

In November 2006 Loro Parque Fundación received from the Brazilian wildlife conservation authority IBAMA two pairs of this rare parrot species for breeding within an international breeding programme for the Lear’s Macaw. There are only 43 animals registered in the studbook as maintained in captivity. These have been mainly confiscated by the authorities from illegal traders. Most of them live in zoological institutes in Brazil. After the first breeding success in the 1970s in the USA, the second breeding was made public last year in the desert state of Qatar at the wildlife conservation centre of Sheikh Al Thani.

Loro Parque Fundación, which with 350 different parrot species and subspecies has the most diverse parrot collection worldwide and which makes intensive efforts in the conservation of parrot species at risk of extinction, has already gained the confidence of the Brazilian wildlife conservation authorities with its numerous breeding successes with the Spix’s Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii), a species extinct in the wild.  Therefore it has been chosen to help in the establishment of a genetic reserve for the Lear’s Macaw in captivity. Thus, for the first time Lear’s Macaws have been legally transferred from theSão Paulo Zoo to an institution outside Brazil.

The rapid success in the breeding centre of Tenerife is certainly thanks to the favourable environmental conditions. Besides the optimal climatic conditions, we built an artificialrock-face with cavities in the flight enclosures for the Lear´s Macaws, since they are used by these birds for breeding in the wild. These found immediate acceptance and served also as the nest-sites. As the first clutch was unfortunately found broken in the nest, the second one was immediately taken out after being laid.

This egg also had a small hole in the shell, which was repaired with paste so that natural development could continue without risk. A pair of Green-winged Macaws was chosen as experienced foster parents, because this pair had previously passed their test as substitute parents of the Hyacinth Macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus).

Loro Parque Fundación is worldwide the most important organization dedicated to the conservation of endangered parrots in their natural habitat. More than 6 million dollars have been invested in 50 parrot conservation projects in the last few years, including the conservation project for the Lear’s Macaw in its natural habitat, the Brazilian Caatinga. The wild population, which was only discovered in 1978, has been able to recuperate from less than 250 to more than 650 animals. These are very encouraging signs in the worldwide fight against the entire loss of species on our planet.

The sensational clutch of the first Lear’s Macaw breeding in Loro Parque Fundación inTenerife gives hope for further successful breeding and the chance that this parrot species can be rescued for ever.

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 " 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)