Chances are you've never heard of Blu Lu, but she's a rarity indeed. Not only does she belong to a critically endangered species, the Blue-throated Macaw, of which as few as 100 remain in the wild, Blu Lu also has a penchant for painting parrots -- and she's using her talents to help save her kind.
Blue-throated Macaws are native to the Bolivian savanna, but habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade there have driven the species to near-extinction. Conservation organizations like the Bird Endowment in Texas, which houses some macaws in case the birds are wiped out in the wild, are hoping to garner public support towards preserving the species by enlisting their flock's most artistic member.
Blu Lu, with the help of her trainer Barbara Heidenreich, has proven to be quite a prolific painter of abstract portraits of other parrots -- and for a good cause. The Bird Endowment has begun selling raffle tickets for a chance to win Blu Lu's one-of-a-kind works of art. The proceeds from the raffle will go towards protecting the world's few remaining wild Blue-throated Macaws.
So just how does a parrot learn to paint? Heidenreich explains, via BirdChannel:
“We started with just touching the handle of the brush at firs. Over time she learned to hold the brush, touch it to paper, and eventually add more strokes. Her training is based in positive reinforcement. This kind and gentle method of teaching creates eager participants. Blu Lu flies right over when she sees the painting supplies are out.”