The ARA Project Faces Eviction

Released Scarlet Macaw in Tiskita release site (by Franck Dziubak)

The ARA Project is a zoological park and non-profit organization in Costa Rica. For the past 30 years, their goal has been the conservation of the endangered buffons (aka great green macaw) and scarlet macaw, species both native to Costa Rica.

The ARA Project houses numerous pairs of buffons and scarlet macaws in their Breeding Center in which chicks are raised in preparation for their release into the wild with the intentions of repopulating the species’ dwindling numbers. The buffons macaw (similar to, but larger than, the military macaw) and the scarlet macaw are both listed on CITES Appendix I – species threatened with extinction. Their successful breeding program has seen released captive bred parrots reproducing in the wild.

Juvenile Great Green Macaw in breeding center ready to move on to release site

From their website:

“The ARA Project has been breeding macaws since the 1980s and releasing macaws since the 1990s in conjunction with MINAET (Costa Rican Ministry of Environment, Energy & Telecommunications). The ARA Project’s breeding center has the largest collection of Great Green Macaws in captivity in the world.

Between 1999 and 2012, The ARA Project released over 80 Scarlet Macaws in the project’s Scarlet Macaw release sites. These macaws have survival rates close to 90% and have successfully reproduced. In 2011, the first Great Green Macaws were released in the Manzanillo release site. It is the first Great Green Macaw reintroduction in the world. The breeding program and release projects are ongoing.”

Great Green Macaw chicks in nursery in breeding center

Their small staff consists of ten people, including breeding technologists and biologists. Like all non-profit organizations, they struggle every day for funding.

Recently, they were hit hard with a major set-back. The owner of the property on which the ARA Project Breeding Center currently stands is selling, forcing them to relocate. All of their efforts to negotiate the purchase of the land have failed. They are faced with eviction before the beginning of the new year and will have to move their facility which houses roughly 150 birds.

From their Facebook page:

“We have very kindly been donated 4 ha of Land near Punta Islita release site to build the breeding centre, it is a beautiful site, but needs allot of work as it currently is bare paddocks, and lacks all basic infrastructure, roads, electricity, housing and food trees for the macaws.
The new site is going to be a Macaw Parrotdise once it is developed.”

They estimate the cost at around $250,000. The ARA Project does amazing work. They have been around for a long time doing everything in their power to save the buffons and scarlet macaws. Now we can help save them.

Most people have no idea what 150 large parrots looks like, and most people don’t understand the complexities of breeding, perhaps the most important aspect to their work. Having to move the breeding birds to a new location will not put them in an amorous mood. This is much more than an inconvenience to those concerned – it will result in a lack of the production of chicks to re-introduce into the wild. Remember that we are talking about species that are facing extinction. The ARA Project needs to get back on its feet as quickly as possible.

As it should be... Released Great Green Macaw in Manzanillo release site & full moon (by Allan Taylor)

How to donate:

On the home page of their website, in the lower right hand corner, you will find a “DONATE” button which takes all of the major credit cards.

Other ways you can help:

  1. In lieu of a cash donation, they are in need of building materials and/or equipment for the new site, located  on the Nicoya peninsula south of Playa Samaraas. They will need assistance in excavating and construction once the materials have been collected.
  2. Further, they need food for the macaws. There current site has food trees and is self-sustaining – they will be losing that. In a blog post, they mentioned bananas and palm nuts, but no doubt the list is larger than that. If you are able to help in this area, I would contact the ARA Project for a “shopping list”.
  3. Raise awareness by sharing this article.

All Photos from:

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.



Donated $25.00 today ( ;-) Windows 7 ) I’m headed to Costa Rica in about 3 weeks.. Hopefully I can get the chance to see the center.

Bryan Gilchrist

Just donated $25 to this wonderful project. Honestly, I wish I could donate my time and services as well, but I have to many obligations already. Plus, who would take care of my birds?

Bryan Gilchrist

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published