Presley the Spix Macaw Passes Away – He Inspired the Rio Movies

Presley the Spix MacawPresley’s species (Spix Macaw) is critically endangered, and the native Brazilian birds are thought by experts to be extinct in the wild.

His death is a blow to conservation efforts, because Presley represented an opportunity in inject some diversity into the remaining gene pool, which is thought to consist of fewer than 100 birds worldwide in captive breeding programs.

According to National Geographic, the species is vulnerable to genetic defects caused by inbreeding.

But Presley never had any offspring after deforestation, animal trafficking and introduced species left Spix’s macaws decimated and he himself spent many years away from his native forests.

Presley’s story inspired the movies Rio and Rio 2.

Presley was smuggled out of his birthplace in the São Francisco Valley in northern Bahia in the 1970s and was traded among several private bird collectors in Europe before he wound up in the U.S.

An avian veterinarian was amazed when more than a decade ago she received a call to examine an ailing blue macaw named Presley in Colorado and recognized it as a Spix’s.  The lone macaw was depressed after losing its companion of many years, an Amazon parrot, living in a small cage, unwell and unable to fly.  After six months of rehabilitation he was returned to Brazil, where he lived in the São Paulo Zoo before being moved to the Lymington Foundation, a refuge and breeding facility for rare parrots in the forest outside the city.  Film Review Rio 2

He was very affectionate – just a very congenial bird, very chirpy, very talkative. He loved visitors,’ Bill Wittkoff, Lymington’s executive director told National Geographic.

‘He’s got an aviary that we’d wheel in and out, for the cold in wintertime and because of very, very hot sun. We’d go by his aviary often and he’d always gives us a chirp, a hello.’

Bill and his wife Linda Wittkoff, who is director of the facility, tried breeding Presley with another Spix’s macaw, but they produced sterile eggs.  They still had hopes for Presley’s ability to breed by artificial insemination, but before they could try it Presley began to sicken.  Spix Macaw 2

It was discovered over the past year that he had an irregular heartbeat and when he went off his food last week, the Wittkoffs took him to a vet.  They believed he’d recover, but he never rallied and at 7am Wednesday morning he died.  ‘To us, Presley is a symbol of the best and worst in mankind,’ the Wittkoffs wrote in a letter announcing his death.  ‘The love, care, concern and effort to help and preserve [on one side], with the greed, selfishness, and lack of concern for the animal world on the other side.”

What a great story…..Presley will be very much missed by all.  Ann – FunTime Birdy

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