Blue Macaw Which Inspired The Movie 'Rio' Has Been Declared Officially EXTINCT

Blue Macaw Which Inspired The Movie 'Rio' Has Been Declared Officially EXTINCT

The Spix's macaw featured in the 2011 animated film 'Rio', is officially extinct in the wild, claims a study conducted on extinct birds. The Brazilian bird is one among the 8 bird species declared extinct or suspected to be extinct now.

The 2011 animated adventure-comedy film Rio quickly became a fan favorite for its vibrant tones and the charming lead character Blu, a Spix's macaw who travels thousands of miles in an attempt to save his dying species. Although Blu found his happy ending on screen, the same cannot be said for the Spix's macaw in real life. A study conducted by BirdLife International claims the Brazilian bird is now extinct in the wild. The Spix's macaw is one among the eight bird species which have been confirmed or suspected to be extinct by the study.


According to a report by CNN, among the eight bird species either confirmed or suspected to be extinct, half them are natives of Brazil. As per the study, deforestation is said to be the leading cause the Spix's macaw's disappearance from its natural habitat. Other listed causes include the creation of a dam and trapping for wild trade. The research also revealed that for the first time ever, extinctions on the mainland are outpacing those on islands. Stuart Butchart, BirdLife's chief scientist, and the paper's lead author said, "Ninety percent of bird extinctions in recent centuries have been of species on islands."


He added, "However, our results confirm that there is a growing wave of extinctions sweeping across the continents, driven mainly by habitat loss and degradation from unsustainable agriculture and logging." The study begins by calling back to the 2011 animated film, in which Blu arrives in Brazil to mate with the last-known wild member of his species, a female named Jewel. Although Blu was successful in finding himself a mate and thereby saving his species, the study claims that if it were real-life, Blu would've been unsuccessful as he was already 11 years too late.


It stated that Jewel, aka the last of her kind, is likely to have perished in or around the year 2000. The study conducted over eight years made use of a new statistical approach to analyze 51 critically endangered species. It quantified 3 factors at once, namely the intensity of threats, timing and reliability of records, and the timing and quantity of search efforts for the species. Of the eight confirmed or suspected extinctions, five took place on the South American continent, while the others were in Brazil. Their findings reflected the staggering effects of the high levels of deforestation taking place in these parts of the world.


Two ovenbirds from North-east Brazil, the Cryptic Treehunter (Cichlocolaptes mazarbarnetti) and Alagoas Foliage-gleaner (Philydor novaesi), and the Poo'uli (Melamprosops phaeosoma), formerly of Hawaii, have not been seen in the wild since 2004. The study thereby recommended that these three species be re-classified as extinct. It also named four other species to be reclassified as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct), which indicates that although they are most likely extinct, further search efforts are needed before they can be definitely classified as such.


The species which fall under this category are, the New Caledonian Lorikeet (Charmosyna diadema) which was last sighted in 1987, Javan Lapwing (Vanellus macropterus) (last seen in 1994), Pernambuco Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium mooreorum) ( last sighting in 2001) and another Brazilian macaw, Glaucous Macaw (Anodorhynchus glaucus)(last seen in 1998). According to a report by ABC on the subject, the researchers stated that these latest losses highlight the urgency of the extinction crisis we face today. The recent study has brought the number of confirmed or likely bird extinctions up to 187 since the year 1500.


The study isn't just a warning call for birds, says Patricia Zurita from Birdlife International. Rather, she says its a sign of danger for biodiversity in general. Birds are more popular and better studied than any other comparable group and are consequently an excellent means through which to take the pulse of the planet," Zurita said. She further warned that climate change was an emerging and increasingly serious threat. Climate change has affected 33 percent of globally threatened species, noted Birdlife International.


However, there is still a glimmer of hope for the Spix’s macaw. Although the species has seemingly been wiped out from its natural habitat in the Brazilian forests, between 60-80 of the birds persist in captivity. This is why it is currently classified as extinct in the wild and not extinct entirely. Although one of these birds were spotted in 2016, scientists now believe it could have been an escapee from captivity rather than proof that the birds are still present in the woods. It's no doubt a sad day for the entire planet as we may just have lost such a brilliant species such as this.


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