Powell, OH – For the second time in eight months, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium responded to a request for emergency conservation funds following the confiscation of 525 African gray parrots from smugglers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In February, the Zoo responded to a call for help when more than 1,500 African gray parrots were seized in Cameroon.
The birds were transported to the Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Centre located near the Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the DRC. The Centre staff is operating under very difficult circumstances in one of the poorest countries in the world. Lwiro currently has no flight enclosures or any staff with bird handling experience.
The Columbus Zoo provided emergency funds to the World Parrot Trust – an organization that has worked extensively with large parrot confiscations in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Upon hearing about the parrots in Congo, the World Parrot Trust sent technical and veterinary guidance to the staff at Lwiro. With funding from the Columbus Zoo and others, the World Parrot Trust will send an avian veterinarian to Congo, support the construction of five to ten large flight enclosures, and construct an aviary to facilitate a release for these birds back into the wild. Some birds may be released in the next six to eight weeks, while others will likely take up to six months before they are strong enough to survive on their own in the wild.
The African gray parrot is now extinct in many parts of its range, and it continues to decline due to trade in much of the rest of central Africa. Finding tools to stop the trade is critical to securing their future in the wild.
In 2009, the Columbus Zoo’s Conservation Grants Program and Partners in Conservation awarded more than $1 million in program support for 70 conservation projects in 35 countries. Over the past five years, the Zoo has distributed $4 million in support. This money is raised from restricted donations, conservation fundraisers, and coins donated by Zoo visitors.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.