Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett today joined U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and partners for the dedication of the Iguaca Aviary, a state-of-the-art captive-breeding facility for the Puerto Rican parrot. To inaugurate the new aviary, the Fish and Wildlife Service moved two Puerto Rican Parrots from the old aviary into one of two large flight cages at the new facility within El Yunque National Forest.
“For more than 30 years, Service biologists have worked with partners to expand our understanding of parrot biology and behavior,” said Scarlett. “The Service has been on leading edge of parrot research worldwide, and this new facility will dramatically improve our ability to ensure a bright future for the parrot.”
“Our scientists have developed techniques that have aided conservation programs for other parrot species throughout Latin America,” said Scarlett. “The Iguaca Aviary is an investment in conservation that brings new hope to the parrot and the conservation world in general.”
The new facility offers many advantages, including more space for outdoor cages and a quarantine room that will increase the Service’s capacity to exchange birds with the Rio Abajo aviary, managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources – a key partner in this effort.
Scarlett expressed her gratitude to all the private organizations that made the Iguaca Aviary possible through their donations. She unveiled a bronze plaque at the facility that will commemorate the contributions of 27 private donors. Major sponsors include The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, Wal-Mart, and Herencia. She also gave special thanks to Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, for bringing the donors together.
When the Service started construction in 2004, Congress had provided $1.7 million for the Iguaca Aviary and simultaneously challenged the Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to raise the remaining portion needed to complete the work.
“Congress created an opportunity to establish new public-private partnerships – a new paradigm for Puerto Rico,” said Trandahl. “Nothing on the scale of assembling this combination of partners had been done before for conservation in Puerto Rico.”
“While the Iguaca Aviary is a major milestone, this new facility alone won’t recover the species,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Recovery may take several more decades of hard work, and the partnership built for this project should continue to serve as a solid platform from which to grow.”
“Crucial steps to conserve and restore lands that will provide habitat for an increasing wild population are vital,” said Hamilton. “That is the only way to ensure future generations will see these majestic birds fly freely throughout the skies in Puerto Rico,”
Another key partner was the U.S. Forest Service, which provided the land for the new aviary and collaborated with the Service to build the structure.
“Developing this facility within the rain forest was complex and challenging,” said Chuck Myers, Regional Forester for the U.S. Forest Service, “but the Puerto Rican parrot is a priority for the Forest Service and worth the effort.”
The complex includes three main structures on 1.2 acres, and includes a host of environmentally friendly features to save water and energy. The building collects rainwater for daily maintenance of the complex. In addition, to handle the typically high temperatures of the tropics, special materials insulate the building to help minimize energy consumption. Green areas inside the complex were planted with native vegetation, including citrus trees that will help provide food for the parrots.