A man allegedly confessed to smuggling 29 parrot eggs through the Miami airport on his way from Nicaragua to Taiwan after officers heard faint chirping noises coming from a carry-on bag, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer detected faint chirping inside a carry-on bag, AP News reported. The officer found a temperature controlled cooler containing multiple eggs, some newly hatched. The suspect, Szu Ta Wu, allegedly confessed to lacking the necessary documentation for transporting the birds.
It has been a busy 2 months here at RSCF. We have been caring for 25 confiscated parrots smuggled to Miami from Nicaragua as eggs. These refugees of illegal wildlife trade are thriving here and our dedicated staff have been working round-the-clock to keep them happy and healthy. pic.twitter.com/I0RlQSARtn
— Rare Species Conservatory Foundation (@rscfusa) May 25, 2023
Wu pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling birds into the United States. Wu could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, AP reported. Wu apparently claimed he had been paid by a friend to travel to Nicaragua to collect the eggs, reportedly unaware of the specific bird species involved. (RELATED: ‘Psycho Gulls’: British Sea Birds Rob Stoners, Get High On Synthetic Weed)
Federal officials called Paul Reillo, Director of Florida International University’s (FIU) Rare Species Conservatory Foundation to assist with the hatching eggs, AP News reported.
“At that point we were off to the races,” Reillo told AP News. “We’ve got all these eggs, the chicks are hatching, the incubator’s running and by the time it was all said and done, we hatched 26 of the 29 eggs, and 24 of the 26 chicks survived.”
A forensics team at FIU conducted DNA analysis on the eggshells and deceased birds to find out which of the 360 parrot species the eggs belonged to. The parrots belong to the yellow-naped Amazon and the red-lored Amazon species, which are highly sought after in illegal trafficking and the caged-bird industry, the outlet noted.
“The vast majority of these trafficking cases end in tragedy,” Reillo told AP News. “The fact that the chicks were hatching the first day of his travel from Managua to Miami tells you that it’s extremely unlikely that any of them would have survived had he actually gotten all the way to his destination in Taiwan. That would have been another 24 to 36 hours of travel.”