The World Parrot Refuge in Coombs has opened up a new wing to house their senior residents. The refuge, which currently houses over 800 parrots from more than 50 species, has converted an old school portable into a care home for senior and special needs birds.
“We had an area up in the parrot refuge where we were keeping the special needs birds but we had so much traffic in there that it was really overwhelming for them,” Wendy Huntbatch, founder of For the Love of Parrots Refuge Society, says.
Huntbatch says that the senior’s wing was designed to replicate a household with a warm fireplace, artwork-clad walls, and a television set. The care home also includes an occupational therapy area where volunteers assist the residents with their artwork.
Although many of the residents are blind, Huntbatch says that these amenities provide them with a familiar setting to live out their twilight years. “Even though they are blind they can hear the sounds which have been part and parcel of their captive lives in human homes,” she says.
Huntbatch says that, like humans, aging parrots can suffer from a range of ailments including blindness, epilepsy, arthritis, congestive heart failure, heart disease, and even fatty liver disease due to spending their lives locked up in cages.
The refuge’s oldest resident is Hello, a Blue and Gold Macaw who has been in Canada for over 67 years. Huntbatch says that its uncommon for his species to reach 60 years of age since birds that are bred in captivity are often deprived of direct sunlight, proper nutrition, and most of all, flight. “Hello was captured from the wild so he really did have a good start in life,” Huntbatch says. “He seems to have the strength of character needed for such a long life—and he does have us.”
Other residents include J.R., an Orange Winged Amazon, who has been taking medication to treat her epilepsy for 36 years, 14 of which were in Huntbatch’s care. Peach, an Umbrella Cockatoo has both physical and mental scars from an abusive owner. The 19-year-old, who was rescued from an abusive situation, has two broken toes and sports a collar to prevent her from self mutilation. Huntbatch says that Peach was “hours from death” when she was seized from a “crack house.” “I just hope that one day people will realize that birds are meant to fly and live in flocks and they shouldn’t actually be in a cage in your house. I love elephants but I don’t have a house full of elephants,” Huntbatch says.
She says that there will be 29 permanent residents in the seniors’ wing once the transition is completed.
The World Parrot Refuge is seeking donations to help cover the cost of the $40 thousand addition. Contributions can be made via <worldparrotrefuge.org>.