Homeless Parrots and the Problem with Sanctuaries

Photo by Bruno Martins

Many of you who have visited Paradise Meadows, the home of Hawaii’s Local Buzz, have been subjected to our diatribe on why you should not get a parrot as a pet. Parrots are unlike any other domestic animal in ways that make them very challenging to keep in the average human household. You can read more about why you should think long and hard before deciding to get a parrot as a pet here.

There are now thousands and thousands and thousands of homeless birds in “rescues” or “sanctuaries” all across North America. The existence of these sanctuaries leads some would-be parrot owners to feel confident that they always have an option should they no longer want or no longer be able to care for their bird. But there’s a sad reality facing most of these formal and informal parrot rescue organizations, which is that the birds in their care will once again be homeless in the event that the founder of the organization dies or becomes incapable of caring for them. When that happens, instead of one or two or three birds needing to find new homes, a catastrophic number of birds find themselves homeless.

This is an article worth reading that serves as an object lesson in why sanctuaries and rescue organizations are not a long-term solution to the problem of unwanted or homeless parrots. It’s the story of the demise of a parrot rescue in British Columbia called the World Parrot Refuge. It was founded by a woman who amassed a collection of almost 600 cockatoos, macaws and other “exotic birds”. By the time the rescue closed it had long since ceased to be a “sanctuary” and instead had become a living hell for these birds who were struggling to survive in horrific conditions.

When the founder died at the age of 70, there was a scramble to find a way to get those birds cared for. Another sanctuary stepped in as a temporary solution, but they are now facing enormous additional expenses and a fast-approaching deadline to either place these birds in new homes or find an alternative facility in which to warehouse them.

If you can, please consider reaching out to The Greyhaven Sanctuary with a donation to help cover the huge additional expense they took on when they took in these needy birds. And if you live in the BC area, are convinced you absolutely need to have a parrot as a pet, and are willing to provide a good home to one of these needy birds, please contact them directly to inquire about adoption. Adopting an already homeless bird is not only a potentially life-saving act – it is also a way to share your life with a parrot that won’t encourage breeders (and worse – parrot breeding mills) to create more potentially homeless birds.

Our rescued parrots – Buddy the Greenwing macaw, Jericho the Blue & Gold macaw, and Lani the Moluccan cockatoo all thank you for your willingness to help other birds like them. And Doc, our African Grey parrot, also says “Mahalo”.

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