The last known wild macaw in Rio de Janeiro is so lonely she’s looking for love at the city’s zoo.
For the last two decades a wild blue-and-yellow macaw has flown to the enclosure at the zoo to hang and canoodle with fellow birds through the fence.
Neiva Guedes, president of the Hyacinth Macaw Institute, an environmental group told the AP that blue-and-yellow macaws live to be about 35 years old and the bird the zoo calls Juliet should have found a lifelong mate years ago – and as Juliet hasn’t coupled, built a nest or had chicks, she’s “still just dating.”
“They’re social birds, and that means they don’t like to live alone, whether in nature or captivity. They need company,” said Guedes, who also coordinates a project that researches macaws in urban settings. Juliet “very probably feels lonely, and for that reason goes to the enclosure to communicate and interact.”
Macaws used to fly in huge flocks over the city but due to hunting and trafficking are now almost extinct. The AP notes that aside from Juliet, the last sighting of a blue-and-yellow macaw flying free in Rio was in 1818 by an Austrian naturalist, according to Marcelo Rheingantz, a biologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and there are no other types of macaws in the city
Biologists at the BioParque zoo “aren’t sure if Juliet’s nuzzling is limited to one caged Romeo, or a few of them. They’re not even certain Juliet is female; macaw gender is near impossible to determine by sight, and requires either genetic testing of feathers or blood, or examination of the gonads.”
Despite being lonely, Juliet appears well nourished and happy.