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National Aviary introduces visitors to hyacinth macaw Jewel

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- National Aviary visitors will be greeted by a new face the next time they stop by the tropical rainforest habitat. 

The National Aviary on Friday introduced Jewel, a hyacinth macaw that's moving from her behind the scenes habitat to the tropical rainforest to be a friend for Sapphira, whose mate Benito recently died

The aviary says socialization is "an incredibly important natural behavior for many macaws." After Benito died, the aviary said it would be keeping a close eye on Sapphira, who was described as "a very confident, gregarious bird." 

Both Jewel and Sapphira arrived at the aviary in 2018 and are getting to know each other in their shared space above the waterfall, which now has new perching areas for them to explore as they bond. 

"Their expert care team has been observing the two closely and are delighted to see positive signs of a social bond being built between them," the aviary wrote on Facebook.

🎶 Best believe I’m still be🔹jeweled🔹when I fly in the Aviary…🎶 Meet Jewel, the Hyacinth Macaw, seen here on the left....

Posted by National Aviary on Friday, February 23, 2024

The aviary introduced Jewel with plenty of nods to Taylor Swift's song "Bejeweled," inviting visitors to come say hi to Jewel and Sapphire because they "make the Tropical Rainforest shimmer."

Sapphira's mate Benito died unexpectedly in January from an aneurysm. The beloved bird was a TV star after he appeared on an episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." He had been at the aviary since the 1990s. 

Hyacinth macaws live in habitats adjacent to tropical forests in central and eastern South America. "These intelligent and social birds are sometimes known as 'gentle giants' for their gentle personalities and their large size," the aviary says on its website. They are the largest macaw species and have strong beaks -- some can even crack open coconuts. 

Fewer than 6,500 hyacinth macaws are left in the wild because the species is vulnerable to the illegal pet trade, habitat loss and hunting, the aviary says.

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