The Spix’s Macaw, better known as Blu to Rio fans, has been wiped out.
According to CBS News, a new study by BirdLife International has found that the parrot species, which inspired the main bird characters of the animated movie Rio, is extinct from the wild. Some of the birds still live in captivity, but the brilliantly colored fliers are no longer found in their natural habitat.
This sad news is made even more tragic by the plot of Rio, which imagined a happier ending for the birds. In the film the main characters, Blu and Jewel, both the last of their species, find each other and have a baby, helping to keep their kind alive.
Based on the study by the conservation group, seven other bird species were listed as likely extinct as well, reports Abc.net. Five of the species now missing from the world came from the mainland of South America, highlighting how widespread deforestation across the continent is affecting animals and nature.
While the news may seem abrupt to some, this upsetting conclusion was reached by BirdLife International after years of exhaustive research.
“The last known individual [Spix’s macaw] in the wild disappeared in 2001, but searches have been ongoing since then and it is only now that we feel confident enough to classify it as extinct in the wild,” the study’s co-author Stuart Butchart told Abc.net.
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The one silver lining for the Spix’s macaw is the animals’ ability to survive in captivity. Conservationists are working on a way to build up a population and release some of the birds into the wild.
Even if these efforts work, conservationists working on this study say the decline of these species should be seen as a serious sign of the planet’s ailing health.