FIU Saves Endangered Parrots from Illegal Animal Smuggling

FIU Saves Endangered Parrots from Illegal Animal Smuggling

Jim McCool
Jim McCool
May 30, 2023

Florida International University has recently sky rocketed among universities across the nation in prestige.  Now the accomplished FIU is working diligently to rehabilitate the endangered parrots.

The Americas have faced a problem with the poaching and smuggling of endangered variations of birds, in this case parrots.  The birds were poached from their nests and smuggled while still eggs, though some had hatched by the time they were discovered in a Chinese national’s carry-on bag (a cleverly disguised incubator) by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents on March 23 at Miami International Airport.

Although federal regulations have plenty to say about importing animals into the United States, the airport and authorities contacted  Paul Reillo, FIU research professor and director of FIU’s Tropical Conservation Institute, for assistance.

Florida International also has the  Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF) which assisted in the process of raising up these endangered parrots.  The birds have since remained there in the specialized unit.

The eggs were being smuggled from Nicaragua to Asia with a total of 29 eggs.  Thanks to the work of FIU, 26 of the 29 eggs hatched and the smuggler was arrested.  However, this is not one isolated incident, as animal trafficking is the fourth largest illegal trade in the world.

“It’s clear this was part of a very sophisticated trafficking operation,” said Reillo, who is also the founding director of RSCF. “It’s not easy to assemble a group of this many eggs synchronized to all hatch around the same time. The total elapsed time from the first to last hatching was just 10 days.”

This work is not new for Reillo, who for 30 years has bred and protected endangered bird species, and has worked with smuggled birds before.  This new case was not a shock to the researcher, as Central American parrots account for as much as 90% of poached birds for illegal trade.

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Jim McCool

Jim McCool

Jim is a graduate of Florida State University where he studied Political Science, Religion and Criminology. He has been a reporter for the Floridian since January of 2021 and will start law school in 2024.

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