In anticipation of the release of the Cayman Turtle Centre’s parrot triplets into the wild, the center has received an encouraging numbers of entries in its schools contest as it prepares for the event, organizers said.

“We have collected 18 high school essays and 11 primary school posters to judge for the Parrot Release,” said the center’s terrestrial exhibits curator and education programs coordinator Geddes Hislop. He has a panel of colleagues from the National Trust and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation assisting with the judging.

“We should have winner results by end of this week of March 20,” he said.

“Personally, I am impressed by the work and interest that have gone into these submissions, [and] I think it bodes well to see the level of awareness in our next generation.”

He said that with the new testing and protocols the facility has to go through to prepare the triplets for release, and the timing of the Easter school break, the birds will likely be released into the wild on Thursday, April 27, at the Botanic Park.

The triplets’ parents, Leo and Sweetpea, will also be the focus of attention in coming weeks.

“We have just installed a brand new nest box for our breeding parrots Sweetpea and Leo, which aviary staff are calling the ‘Ritz-Carlton’ because it is more spacious than their original nest box,” said Mr. Hislop, adding that the old box will be refurbished and assigned to the center’s second potential breeding parrot pair, Rosie and Ralph, who they hope will breed in 2018.

“The larger nest space will allow Sweetpea and Leo to better accommodate raising three chicks,” said Mr. Hislop.

“We have also added a webcam … [so] for the first time, we will be able to monitor in real time the rearing of endangered Cayman parrot chicks inside their nest between April-June.”

Mr. Hislop says having the webcam will assist with a center project of gathering data to develop a Cayman parrot husbandry manual, as well as offering the public the ability to watch Cayman’s national birds raise and fledge their offspring, and to get a better idea of how the duo’s wild counterparts will be simultaneously raising their own chicks in tree cavities in Cayman’s woodlands and black mangrove forests.

“There is much interest and enthusiasm for this project from our colleagues in zoos and conservation programs in North America and the Caribbean (some also use webcams to share information about endangered species in their care), but we also hope this will help further enhance Cayman public endearment to Sweetpea, Leo and their wild Cayman parrot counterparts,” said Mr. Hislop.

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