Students across Cayman are being invited to take part in a contest that will have the winners take part in the release of juvenile Cayman parrots into the wild this March.

With the support of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park and the Department of Environment, the Cayman Turtle Centre will be holding its annual Cayman parrot release on March 3 at the Botanic Park. As part of the contest, two to four lucky students will be selected to represent their schools at the event, and have the chance to take part in the release.

“In 2009, Cayman Turtle Centre began its captive breeding program for our endemic Grand Cayman Amazon (Amazona leucocephala caymanensis), commonly known as the Cayman parrot, our National Bird,” said Cayman Turtle Centre terrestrial exhibits curator Geddes Hislop, who also oversees the facility’s educational programs.

“All Turtle Centre program parrots are rescue and rehab birds accumulated over the years. With a lot of trial and surprisingly few errors, the CTC has successfully bred and released nine offspring from one breeding pair, and increased hatching and clutch success from one hatching per clutch of three, to three hatchings per clutch of four,” he continued, in an email to the Cayman Compass.

“We are currently preparing to release the second clutch of captive-bred Cayman parrot ‘triplets’ ever born in captivity. The chicks were hatched in May 2016 and are preparing for wild release in early March 2017. This will free up the primary breeding pair to get back action around late March. This year, CTC will also attempt to start up a second breeding pair of parrots to boost the program.”

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To enter the contest, students in Years 2 to 6 are asked to submit a poster of their own design entitled “The Cayman Parrot – Our National Treasure.” The poster must depict either conservation of parrots and/or their habitat, the importance of parrots in the environment, or parrots in Cayman’s history culture, with no restrictions on art media or text.

“The winning poster will be selected based on relevance and accuracy of content, imaginative use of materials and overall presentation,” said Mr. Hislop.

Students in years 7 to 11 are asked to submit a 200-300 word essay with the same title as the poster submissions, discussing one or more of the above-mentioned topics. The winning essay will be selected based on relevance and accuracy of content and overall presentation.

Contest details have already been sent to schools, and all contest submissions should be delivered to the Cayman Turtle Centre or emailed to [email protected] by Feb. 17. The winners will be announced by Feb. 21.

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