The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw

Not even Hollywood could invent Sharon Matola. The plucky American arrived in Belize in the ’80s, founded a popular zoo, and became an expert on the scarlet macaw, an increasingly rare rainbow-colored parrot. When the Belizean government proposed erecting a dam in pristine macaw habitat, she leapt to the bird’s defense. Bruce Barcott’s The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw, a fascinating account of the resulting battle, touches upon greed, corruption, and the legacy of colonialism. While the outcome is sobering, there’s a glimmer of hope for imperiled species everywhere in feisty irritants like Matola. A-

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