In a small building tucked away in Loxahatchee, near West Palm Beach, 24 bright green baby parrots are flourishing under the care of the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation. These Central American parrots were seized from a smuggler at Miami International Airport and have been hand-raised by the foundation since hatching in March.
The parrots, just 9 weeks old, have already endured a treacherous journey after being taken from their nests in a forest. Now, they are nearly fully feathered and are being transitioned from a special formula to a diet of food pellets and fruit.
The hatchlings’ faint chirping inside a carry-on bag at the airport caught the attention of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. The passenger, Szu Ta Wu, was arrested and later pleaded guilty to smuggling birds into the United States. He could face up to 20 years in prison.
The foundation, contacted by federal officials, swiftly set up a makeshift incubator at the airport to save the hatching parrots. With the help of a USDA veterinarian and DNA analysis, the team identified the surviving parrots as yellow-naped Amazons and red-lored Amazons, which are popular in the illegal caged-bird trade.
Rescued from the well-established trafficking pipeline in Central America, these parrots are a testament to the ongoing threat of habitat loss and wildlife trafficking. Approximately 90% of parrot eggs are poached for the illegal trade, making it a significant global concern.
The dedicated efforts of the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation have given these parrots a chance to thrive despite their challenging start, highlighting the importance of conservation and raising awareness about the perils faced by these remarkable creatures.