Wildlife - Zoo Ave
Reintegration Project of Scarlet Macaws
The privately owned, non-profit oriented Zoo Ave is located outside San Jose in La Garita, Alajuela and has been started by the Canadian Dennis Janik some years ago. Zoo Ave has become an official Wildlife Rescue Center for injured and confiscated wildlife and serves also as an Educational Center for local school classes.
Although Zoo Ave was originally a bird zoo (the word 'ave' meaning bird in Spanish), the zoo now includes all types of Costa Rican monkeys, many other mammals and reptiles. All animals of the zoo were either former pets, orphaned, mistreated or confiscated by the National Park Authorities from hotels or private households. Many of the smaller birds have meanwhile been successfully rehabilitated and released at the zoo area.
In November 1998, the first group of highly endangered Scarlet Macaws (ara macao), all breed and raised at the zoo, was brought to the reintroduction site of Zoo Ave on Playa San Josecito at the edge of the Piedras Blancas National Park where macaws were once present but no longer existed due to poaching and pesticide use. Since then more than 100 macaws have been successfully released so far.
When arriving at the release site the macaws, most of them born and raised at the zoo, are placed together in a large flight cage to spend some weeks to acclimate, to socialize and to form pairs, to improve their flying abilities, and to learn how to feed from the native food of the lowland rainforest. When the biologists of Zoo Ave decide the birds are ready for release, every bird will be marked with short lasting paint that helps to identify and monitor them after having been released. Some of the macaws even get radio collars. Those who do not get along in the wild will be recaptured and being brought back to the breeding facilities of Zoo Ave in La Garita, Alajuela.
Zoo Ave will continue to release 10 to 20 birds each year until the macaw population is considered stable and thus is establishing a third self-sustaining Scarlet Macaw population to add to the two existing groups of the Corcovado National Park and the Carara Biological Reserve.
The Zoo Ave release site at Playa San Josecito is not open to the public.
However, visiting Zoo Ave at La Garita, Alajuela helps to support the native wildlife of Costa Rica. The Zoo is open daily from 09.00am until 05.00pm and it is easy to get there; 10 minutes west of the International Airport, 2 miles off the highway from the Atenas exit.