The animated movie Rio tells the story of the last 2 “Blue Macaws” on earth, and their adventurous efforts to save their species from extinction. The touching yet realistic conservation story has captivated adults and children alike, and the movie posted ticket sales of $40,000,000 on its first weekend…a record for this year. Many fans may not realize that a real endangered species – the Spix’s Macaw, Cyanopsitta spixii, and a real individual bird – Presely, inspired director Carlos Saldanba to create the movie.
Extinct in the Wild
The Spix’s Macaw became extinct in the wild in the year 2000, when the last known male disappeared. He left no purebred offspring as, lacking a female Spix’s Macaw, he had mated with a Blue-Winged Macaw.
The ashy to brilliant blue Spix’s Macaw dwelled only in a tiny area of northeastern Brazil, where it was limited to a dry-scrub habitat dominated by Caatinga Trees (please see photo). Although there are no more wild Spix’s Macaws, plans are being made to reintroduce them to Brazil in time, and local schools are actively involved in the process (please see article below).
Seventy-one Spix’s Macaws are known to exist in captivity, with an estimated 50 additional individuals possibly being kept but not registered with conservation authorities.
The USA’s Only Spix’s Macaw
Presely is a male Spix’s Macaw that came to light in the year 2002. Believed to be the only Spix’s Macaw in the USA, Presely was being kept as a pet in Colorado (please see article below for photos).
His existence became known via a call by his owner to a veterinarian’s office; the person who answered the call realized the significance of such a bird, and followed up by visiting the owner. Presely is approximately 25 years old, and has spent most of his life in a cage. The recent death of his companion, an Amazon Parrot, had depressed him and his owner was concerned for his health.
Presely Returns to Brazil
After months of negotiations, and with the help of the World Parrot Trust, Presely found a new home at Brazil’s Sao Paulo Zoo, and from there was transferred to a breeding program. It is hoped that he will pair-up with a female Spix’s Macaw and reproduce. However, as parrot-owners well know, this can be tricky, so Presely’s DNA will also be preserved so that he can in that way contribute to the survival of his species.
Photos and story of Presley, the Macaw that inspired the movie Rio.
Video: Spix macaw Breeding Center
Spixara image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Robert01
Caatinga image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Allan Patrick