Xcaret, the Riviera Maya’s famous nature park announced in April that its record-breaking scarlet macaw-breeding program has boosted the numbers of wild macaws in Mexico by 30 percent. Since 2013, in coordination with experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Acajungla A.C. and Ecoparque Aluxes, 73 birds born in Xcaret have been released into the wild near the ancient Mayan city of Palenque in Chiapas.

Despite being one of Mexico’s emblem birds, the macaw population has dwindled to alarming levels in recent years due to poaching and the destruction of its jungle habitat. Once widespread in tropical Mexico, it is now only found in remote areas of Chiapas and it was extinct in the Palenque area.

Xcaret began to breed macaws in 1993 and has been so successful that it is in the Guinness Book of Records for the numbers of chicks born. Survival rates are high and to date over 1,000 birds have been raised from four original breeding pairs. A flock of them is set free every day at noon to fly over the park.

With the success of the Palenque releases, Xcaret plans to continue its macaw project in Chiapas and extend it to the Los Tuxtlas region in southern Veracruz.

Photos courtesy of Experiencias Xcaret