Biologists at a Sao Paulo zoo successfully hatch a rare Lear's macaw, the first time the endangered species has been successfully reproduced in captivity in Latin America. Ben Gruber has more.
STORY: Puppies are cute, kittens are adorable. Newborn Lear macaws are just plain ugly. But for biologist Regiane Paiva, this is one of the most beautiful birds she's ever laid her eyes on. The featherless baby is the first Lear macaw to ever be born in captivity in the southern hemisphere. And that is an important step towards saving the rare birds from extinction. Lear macaw's are an endangered species with less than 1300 left on the planet. Paiva says reproducing one is a challenge. She says successfully hatching the baby bird required an incubator set at just the right temperature and humidity levels combined with a lot of patience. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) BIOLOGIST, REGIANE PAIVA, SAYING: "It's pretty special. We ended up getting this result from a lot of hard work. It took years of investment which also goes to show the work of the Brazilian technicians and the Brazilian institutions that have this speciality. It shows that we have the conditions and technical know-how to have reproductive success." The next challenge is keeping the newborn alive. Biologists at the Sao Paulo zoo, where the baby was born three weeks ago, are keeping it separated from its parents. It still lives in an incubator where a team feed the bird every three hours around the clock. The ugly little bird doesn't have a name yet. It will be nine weeks before its caretakers will be able to tell if it's a boy or girl. That's when it will be safe to draw blood and determine its sex. Six months down the road the baby macaw should finally grow a full plume of beautiful blue feathers characteristic of its species… and its unattractive baby pictures will be a distant memory.