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Sun, May 19

Mandy the Macaw has been with zoo since the beginning

Courtesy photo<br>Mandy the Macaw has been a resident of Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary since its 1988 opening.

Courtesy photo<br>Mandy the Macaw has been a resident of Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary since its 1988 opening.

As Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary staff prepare to celebrate the institution's 25th anniversary Saturday, they are honoring one resident who has been there from the beginning: Mandy the Blue and Gold Macaw.

Mandy officially arrived at the zoo in September of 1988 at an unknown age, making her the oldest resident of the zoo as well as the one who has been here the longest.

Mandy lived with her friend Maui for many years until Maui's passing. A new macaw arrived in 2012 named Max, who now shares the enclosure with Mandy.

Blue and gold macaws (also called blue and yellow macaws) are valued in the pet trade for their bright coloration. Although not as well know for their speaking abilities as other parrot species, both macaws can greet visitors and, on occasion, Mandy does a spot-on impression of her trainer's English accent.

Blue and gold macaws are native to the forests and swamps of South America. They have exceptionally strong beaks and eat lots of nuts, seeds and fruit both in the wild and in captivity. They also tend to congregate around clay mounds, appropriately called "macaw licks." It is believed that eating the soil neutralizes the acid of the fruit in their stomachs. They also have very agile toes that allow them to grip branches and manipulate items.

Like most parrots, or psittacines, macaws live in large flocks and do not like to be solitary. Blue and gold macaws mate for life. They are very active birds and can fly up to 35 miles per hour. They are also very loud so their voices can echo through the dense forests where they live. Mandy and Max can be heard throughout the sanctuary. Macaws are also very long lived, with a median life expectancy of between 60 and 80 years.

Come say "hello" to Mandy and Max at Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary's 25th Anniversary Celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call 778-4242 or visit www.heritageparkzoo.org for more information. Who knows? The sanctuary's oldest resident might say "hello" right back!

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