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Established April 2000. We started thinking sanctuary was the way to go, because we aspire to a “forever home” and a safe place that will permanently protect our birds. However, the truth is that few, if any, sanctuaries are truly sustainable for long-lived birds. “Forever home” is a terrible misnomer to use for parrots. Also, most birds enjoy the interaction that a smaller home and family can offer. We are now an adoption and education organization only, no sanctuary. We promise a succession of good homes to every bird that enters our adoption program, no matter how many homes that may require.
We started in one place, the Washington D.C. area. As more volunteers became involved from other places, we were able to establish operations in other places as well. Our only permanent long-term location is near Asheville, NC, because that is where our one facility is located. All other locations are volunteer-dependent, until we are able to open permanent adoption centers in other potential locations.
Seeing a bird go to a good family and start a new life is very rewarding to me. To see someone learn a new piece of information that will improve the life of their bird is equally satisfying!
Education and information are how we can make the biggest difference for the widest number of birds.
Even someone caring for birds for many years can still learn something new, especially since there is always new information being developed.
Keeping any relationship fresh can be a challenge, so I think we owe it to our captive birds to be long-term, eager learners.
I think organizational skills are the most important in establishing and/or mananging a non-profit.
My federal career was immensely beneficial – learning how to
organize, document, plan, strategize;
balance skills and time;
work with a wide variety of people;
define a mission, and operationalize ideas.
People who care about animals can get bogged down on the emotional side, which will ultimately hinder their ability to be effective. So it’s very important to balance the practical and the emotional.
What sort of impacts do you see from such legal developments as people moving to a state where they can no longer keep their particular species of parrot. What legislative/policy changes would most improve the situation of large exotic birds in the US/in your area?
We’d like to see more legislative protections for birds, starting with their incorporation into the federal Animal Welfare Act.
There are also many tragic situations where city/county/state officials can do nothing to help, because birds have so few protections.
The welfare of birds need to be considered, balanced with the personal and property rights of people. Both are important.
There are very few sanctuaries that are sustainable. It might make us feel better that a bird has gone to this “permanent” place, especially if we’ve provided money for their care. However, it’s important to ask what the sustainability plan is for any sanctuary, and make sure it’s not just dependent on a small number of people with limited resources, which many are.
Frankly — if a home adopts a bird for five years, that is often considered a success. Because people’s lives change so quickly (health, job, family, time, etc), birds almost always need a succession of good homes. This is especially true for long-lived birds like macaws, cockatoos, and Amazons. This is why adoption for birds is so important!