By Sheila M. Eldred
No Disney ending here: A rare blue parrot named Presley died last week, leaving only one known, wild-born Spix's macaw left. And, unlike in the movie "Rio," which Presley may have inspired, he didn't leave behind any offspring.
The native Brazilian birds are already believed to be extinct in the wild, after deforestation and non-native honeybees started competing with them for nest space. The last sighting of a Spix's macaw in the wild came in 2000.
Fewer than 100 of the parrots are currently being bred in refuges, and the lack of genetic diversity has led to challenges for them. Some researchers hope advances in artificial insemination could help restore the population, according to Doha News.
"Just looking after birds in a cage is not conservation," Al Wabra Wildlife Center director Cromwell Purchase told the website.
In the Disney film "Rio," the macaw returns to Brazil and finds the last remaining Spix's macaw -- conveniently, female. Overcoming poachers, they reproduce in the fairy-tale ending. Director Carlos Saldanha has said he hoped the Disney movie would help inform its audience about endangered birds, according to National Geographic.
"I wanted [to feature\ the rarest bird," he told the website Bird Channel in 2011. "The Spix's macaw truly is the rarest."