A pair of Resplendent Quetzals, the mysterious emerald-green bird of paradise that was sacred to the ancient Maya, will take up residence in Xcaret Park in April to form the keystone of a new breeding program.
Following the park’s success in breeding rare scarlet macaws, a group of which are now being introduced to the wild in a nature park near the ancient Mayan city of Palenque in Chiapas, its team of biologists have now turned their attention to another emblem species of the Maya World, the critically endangered quetzal. Once widespread in the mountains of southern Mexico, the feathered serpent or “kuk” of Mayan mythology now only lives in the cloud forests of Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama, and its numbers have dwindled due to habitat loss.
Xcaret’s pair of quetzals were bred in captivity at the Miguel Alvarez del Toro Zoo in Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas, which has a similar program with Dallas Zoo. At Xcaret, the quetzals will live in the first phase of the huge new aviary in conditions that resemble their cloud forest home, with a temperature of 66˚F and high humidity levels.