Where We Work

Where We Work

Breeding Center

  • Punta Islita (Active)

    In December 2013, the Ara Project finished moving its breeding center location from Alajuela to Punta Islita, where it has operated a release site since 2011. This transition was a monumental task that had taken a year of preparation and construction. New facilities, both for the breeding birds and the extended staff, had to be built, new environmental and construction permits had to be processed, and the logistics of moving a breeding center that had been its original place in Alajuela for more than 30 years with more than 170 macaws had to be resolved.

    A vigorous fundraising campaign was organized and a new organizational structure was developed to handle the challenges. Thankfully the project’s friends, volunteers, donors, and collaborators rose to the occasion and the move was finished successfully. The project is in the process of adapting the birds to their new environment and moving forward with the construction of additional aviaries.
  • Alajuela (Historic - Now Closed)

    The breeding center, which had been started by the Frisius family in the early 1980s in Alajuela, was officially closed in January of 2014, and the property returned to its new owner. The center operated here for more than 30 years but after a time was encroached on by urban sprawl. When Margot and Richard passed away the property was sold to a new owner who was kind enough to give the project repeated extensions on our relocation deadlines. This place became the reference point for The Ara Project through the years and it holds many dear memories to hundreds of people that visited, volunteered and worked there.

Release Sites (Reintroduction)

  • Punta Islita (Active)

    This release site is located on land leased by Hotel Punta Islita. It is situated in the tropical moist forest of Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast. The climate is relatively dry and the forest also has some characteristics of a tropical dry forest. Wild Scarlet Macaws have been locally extinct in this area for decades. The release of the first group of Scarlet Macaws took place here in 2011 with a second group released in 2013.
  • Manzanillo (Active)

    The Manzanillo release site is situated in the moist tropical forest of Costa Rica’s South Caribbean coast. The first group of Great Green Macaws was released here in 2011 followed by a second group in 2012. These releases represent the first time that Great Green Macaw reintroductions were attempted anywhere in the world. The former natural population of Great Greens that used to live in this area sadly went extinct prior to these releases, with reports of only one individual remaining.
  • Punta Banco (Historic)

    Situated in the tropical wet forest of Costa Rica’s South Pacific coast on the mouth of the Golfo Dulce bay, the release site in Tiskita Biological Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot. The efforts in this area represented the Ara Project’s longest running reintroduction project. Between 2002 and 2011, eight groups of birds were released, most of which are now thriving and reproducing in the wild. Before 2002, Scarlet Macaws in the area had been locally extinct for decades. Starting in November of 2012, the Tiskita Lodge became solely responsible for the administration of this site, and management of the birds in the area.
  • Using biological corridors to connect populations (Future)

    The long-term aim of Ara’s efforts is to reintroduce birds at strategic points located between areas where wild populations occur, so that over time the birds spread along biological corridors and eventually restore macaw populations throughout much of their former range. Historically it has been our experience that the recently released birds maintain a close proximity to the release sites, and as the numbers of released birds are increased, their range is extended. Added to this will be the eventual addition of newly fledged macaws looking for their own home territory. These younger birds tend to establish themselves on the edges of ranges of the already settled macaws. The long-term goal is that the birds or their offspring will eventually meet up with the wild populations.