Endangered parrots took shelter from Irma in a hurricane proof building

The endangered Puerto Rican Parrot. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with helping preserve endangered and at-risk species. So when Hurricane Irma began bearing down on Puerto Rico, the USFWS members moved all the Puerto Rican parrots from an aviary to a hurricane proof building.

The Puerto Rican Parrot, also known as the Puerto Rican Amazon is the only remaining native parrot in Puerto Rico it’s sat on the critically endangered list since 1994. In 2012, the total estimated population was 58–80 individuals in the wild and over 300 in captivity.

Thursday USFWS personnel took shelter in a hurricane proof building, and they made room for the rare Puerto Rican parrots.

The USFWS tweeted, this video of the birds safe in the shelter.

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Back in 1989, Hurricane Hugo devastated the parrot population, destroying more than half the parrots in the Puerto Rican wild. By the end of 1989, just a small population of 22 birds remained.

Iguaca Aviary, Puerto Rico

The Iguaca aviary was completed in 2007 to protect the species through captive breeding and egg fertility.

Irma and Puerto Rico

A representative from the USFWS says overall damage in Puerto Rico was less than initially feared.

The eye of the Category 5 storm, stayed about 30 miles north of Puerto Rico hitting the island with a glancing blow that left one million people without power and killing three people.

The USFWS says they are preparing to assess how Irma will affect other wildlife groups, such as the Key deer, the Florida panther, the Cape Sable seaside sparrow.

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has a decade and a half of experience working in a fast-paced newsroom. He’s worked as a journalist, weather chief, and news director.

He was on air during major weather and news events, including Hurricane Katrina, and the EF-4 tornados that struck the city of Hattiesburg in 2013.

Ortego is a two-time 1st place recipient in Investigative Journalism from The Mississippi Associated Press and a five-time recipient of Best Weather Broadcast.