Resplendent Quetzal

Pharomachrus mocinno

About the object

The specimen on display is a female resplendent quetzal with brilliant plumage. Females do not have the same long decorative feathers as the males. They are native to the tropical montane cloud forest of Central America. Due to its extraordinary colouring, this specimen has taken its rightful place in the permanent exhibition in the "Erlebnisraum Wiese" ("Meadow Experience") under the sub-topic "Colour".
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The iridescent green blue plumage of the resplendent quetzal glints like a gemstone. The quetzal was a revered divine bird and harbinger of good luck for the Aztecs and the Mayans. According to legend, the quetzal landed on the slain Tecún Umán during a battle against the Conquistadores and his blood dyed the feathers on its breast a scarlet red, which is visible to this day on living birds. Tecún Umán was the last ruler of the great indigenous tribes of Guatemala, the Quiché, who, vanquished in this battle, lost their independence. Nowadays in particular, the quetzal symbolises freedom because the bird is notoriously difficult to keep in captivity. The resplendent quetzal is both the heraldic symbol and national bird of Guatemala, as well as the namesake of its national currency, the “Quetzal” (GTQ). The resplendent quetzal is indigenous to the cloud forests of Central America. However, as a result of the destruction of its habitats and illegal hunting, the resplendent quetzal, also a member of the trogo family, is considered an endangered species. There are only a limited number of designated protected areas where it can be found. The bird species is listed in the CITES treaty (also known as the Washington Convention on Wildlife Conservation, WA).

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