For animal rights activists, 2019 has already been a year of ups and downs. Coming off a major victory against wild animal acts in New Jersey, hearts broke as the majestic giraffe was put on the endangered species list. After California’s ban on Foie Gras put an end to the unethical ingredient, there was plenty of reason to celebrate, until a new study from BirdLife International confirmed that the splendid Spix’s Macaw, the endangered parrot that served as the inspiration for the children’s movie “Rio” are extinct in the wild.
Those who have seen the movie might be less surprised by the news than others. In the film, Rio knows he’s the last of his kind, making him search frantically for a female to carry on his species. The Spix’s Macaw was not the only bird mentioned on the extinction report, which found invasive species and hunting as the major driving factors leading to extinction.
As awful as this news is, there were good signs as well. Deforestation was not a major cause of concern for the birds, and poaching has been shown to drop when there’s tough legislation. Although the Macaw is now understood to be extinct in the wild, some of the birds still survive in breeding programs.
As much as we put our hearts and souls into fighting for animals in our own country, reports like this one highlight the need to think globally. There’s also plenty of reason to hope. Conservationists and scientists have already rescued plenty of species from extinction, including animals who were at one point declared extinct in the wild as well. For all the damage human ignorance has done to the animals who share our planet, human compassion may be our planet’s last line of defense.
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