An Avicultural Experience at Laro Parque


Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. When you are a parrot person, Loro Parque on Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, is Mecca. An opportunity for a pilgrimage to an international parrot convention at Loro Parque, however, presents itself only once every four years. The time was right for me to go, so I did.

Kudos to Wolfgang Kiessling, owner and general administrator of Loro Parque, for creating and hosting a five star production of the N International Parrot Convention, September 17-21, 1998, which in all respects and with great success lived up to its reputation as the premier first class experience for specialized knowledge on parrots.

There were between 750-800 world class scientist and biologist, zoo curators and veterinarians, birders and aviculturists from literally all corners of the globe. The North American contingent probably made up no more than 100 individuals, but we were an enthusiastic group eager to meet our counterparts from Germany, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Denmark, France, Indonesia, New Zealand and other locales where aviculture is practiced.

All the speakers at the convention were good and many of those in the vanguard of new developments in aviculture, avian medicine, and husbandry were from the U.S.

Jim Murphy, M.S. spoke with insight about Amazon parrots; Susan Cluh, DVM spoke with experience about how to cope with hand rearing problems, and Branson Ritchie, Ph.D. spoke with hard-earned knowledge about proventricular dilatation disease, formerly known as macaw wasting syndrome.

At the culmination of the formal talks, the delegates voted Paul Butler as their favorite speaker. Paul Butler is Director for Conservation Education for RARE and is mostly known for his work on behalf of the endangered Amazons of St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Dominica. However, his efforts have extended to the other Amazons of the Caribbean region including the paruipes Amazon. His methodology, "Promoting Protection through Pride, " has spread to a total of 14 Caribbean, three Central American, and three Pacific Island countries - all with good to excellent results. This has been accomplished by generating grassroots support for conservation in developing island nations, through the combination of a colorful flagship species with a burgeoning sense of national pride. Much of his programs' efforts are directed to the children of these nations as they will he the decision- makers of the future.

Second place distinction went to Carl Jones, who has worked in the Mascarene Islands for the past 20 years on the conservation of their endemic wildlife. Working with the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, Jones has concentrated his efforts into the conservation of the Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon, and the Echo Parakeet Psittacula eques.

Saving the Echo Parakeet should be viewed by conservationists and aviculturists with mutual pride and mutual appreciation, as this chunky relative of the Indian Ring-necked parakeet is being helped by a combination of good conservation practices and by manipulative techniques learned in the practice of aviculture. Dr. Jones, a trained field conservation professional, in his address to the convention, made some telling comments that clearly were supportive of aviculture's role in conserving wildlife.

His first statement was an acknowledgement of the limits of conservation in protecting critically endanger wildlife: "In most of the world where native habitat has been fragmented by man or disrupted by alien organisms, habitat conservation per se is rarely enough to achieve sustainable conservation of all wildlife and is a...