As I mentioned in my first post, in addition to Gorge animals I will write about animal issues that are – or could be – related to the Gorge. And the following topic – the plight of tropical birds kept as pets – is, unfortunately, a worldwide issue.
After visiting last week the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs on Canada’s Vancouver Island I’m convinced the breeding and selling of birds as pets should be prohibited everywhere.
Wendy Huntbatch and Horst Neumann have created the largest nonprofit sanctuary in North America for pet tropical birds who have been surrendered by their owners or removed from abusive environments. Currently, about 900 birds, cared for by staff and volunteers, are housed in the 23,000 square-foot facility.
Open to the public, the refuge houses more than 50 species of parrots representing many of the world’s continents including Indonesia, Australia, South America and Africa. Macaws, cockatiels, cockatoos, Amazons, African greys, lovebirds, parakeets, and finches are among the species you’ll see there. The birds at the sanctuary have found a home for life; they are not available for adoption (but virtual, fundraising adoptions are available).
It costs approximately $500,000 a year to run the refuge, including $1,200 a week in food alone. Although funding is tight, plans are in the works for an additional 16,000 square feet of outdoor flight aviaries so the birds will get a chance to be outside in warm months.
Most of the birds at the refuge are the result of having been born in captivity and sold as pets, although the poaching of wild birds for breeding purposes continues. (According to the World Parrot Refuge, only 20% of birds caught in the wild survive long enough to get to the market.)
Huntbatch says parrots make “dreadful” pets because they are messy and loud. See her recent video interview with Global News.
Although Huntbatch has cancer, she continues to care for the birds daily and says the greatest gift she could receive is if birds like those in the sanctuary were left in the wild.
“If we could get people to stop breeding them, I’d be the happiest woman in the world,” she says.
What you can do
To help the World Parrot Refuge with its operating expenses, you can make a financial donation or “adopt” a bird online or by mail.
The refuge is officially operated by the For the Love of Parrots Refuge Society or FLOPRS. The society offers the following suggestions and insights to anyone interested in helping pet parrots in general:
- Only buy previously owned parrots
- Make the commitment to provide a home for life
- Provide a large enclosure inside and outside, weather permitting
- Allow parrots the joy of flight
- Provide a natural diet
- Visit a good avian veterinarian regularly
The FLOPRS website adds: “All businesses run on the principles of supply and demand. If we commit to taking care of those parrots already on the “pet-go-round” and refuse to buy baby birds, the breeding of these living beings for profit will stop.
Images from the World Parrot Refuge
Can you foster kittens?