Smuggler’s rare Amazon parrot eggs taken by Miami Airport Border agent

USA News

Two dozen rare baby parrots that hatched after being left orphaned in a wildlife smuggling operation are now able to chirp and bob their heads as conservationists raise them in a new home.  

On March 23, Miami International AirportU.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered the tiny hatchlings when faint chirps were heard from a “cleverly disguised incubator” in the carry-on bag of a passenger who just arrived from Managua, Nicaragua and was en route to Taiwan with a total of 29 Red-browed Amazon parrot eggs.

The Chinese national pleaded guilty to wildlife smuggling and faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced in August. 

Soon after discovering the eggs, agents transported the Central American birds to the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (RSCF), which has zoologists who are providing “round-the-clock care” at  the institute’s program partner, Florida International University (FIU). 

A pair of young red-lored Amazon parrots investigate their environment at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Loxahatchee, Fla., Friday, May 19, 2023. According to a criminal complaint, a smuggler was caught with 29 parrot eggs at Miami International Airport when the eggs began hatching in his carry-on bag while in transit. The RSCF is raising the 24 surviving red-lored and yellow-naped parrots while looking for a long-term home for the birds.

For 45 days, the chicks remained under federally mandated quarantine until the birds tested negative for pathogens, according to FIU’s statement.

“Now, the parrot chicks fill their days with demanding chirps and playful movements that will soon transition to flight,” the statement said.

FIU research professor Paul Reillo, also the founding director of RSCF, said the smuggler was clearly “part of a very sophisticated trafficking operation.”

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