Well, it was a busy end to 2014 and start to 2015. I want to start by thanking each and every person who donated and helped with last year’s annual fundraiser. Though we had set our goals high to raise $24,000, we received just over $10,000 in donations. Our first quarterly volunteer meeting is set for January 25, and one of the main topics that will be discussed is how to try to make up the difference between our estimated budget for 2015 and our actual monetary intake. For each and every parrot that we adopt out, there is, of course an adoption fee as well as a fee to cover up to $200 of its veterinary costs. Though you would think that our adoption fees would cover the cost of care for the parrots, it does not even come close. It is my position that we not increase our adoption fees, as PEAC has always been and will continue to be focused on matching the right parrot with the right person, and no amount of money can compare to the joy and excitement felt when we place a parrot in a new home.
In my first year as director, I am very pleased to report we have had no returns of any parrots that have been adopted in 2014, which goes to show we are doing something right. Previously, we didn’t charge for relinquishments but have often asked for a donation toward the bird’s care. Many times, for a variety of reasons, the person is not able to give a donation. I plan to continue to approach every intake as an individual situation but will begin with the start of 2015 to make the person relinquishing aware that there will be a suggested fee of $200 for every bird surrendered to PEAC. The thing I don’t want to happen is for a person to choose not to use PEAC due to cost issues but I feel it is imperative that they are made aware that they are asking for PEAC to not only take on the responsibility of caring for their parrot but also to assume the cost of that care.
I cannot begin to express how happy I am and proud of the work our volunteers, both those who foster and those who just offer their time, have given to PEAC in 2014. There have been a few outreach events were we have had to thank people for offering to help but we have it covered with those already offering to volunteer. That is a first in my experience with PEAC. We never want to discourage a volunteer from offering help, so with some of the events coming in 2015 we will be scheduling time slots to allow all to participate in events.
I want to take a few moments to talk to you about a parrot rescue that I was able to tour recently in Hawaii and sit down and chat with the founders, Dorothy and Jerry Walsh. On arriving at the sanctuary (also their personal residences that is off the grid) I was not sure what to expect, as the drive there took us up what seemed to be an abandoned road. As the dense foliage opened up we saw open grass fields surrounded by what we were later informed was an old macadamia nut plantation. Dorothy and Jerry were parrot owners for many years before retiring to the Big Island. What started out as just helping a few birds that needed homes, turned into not only a full-fledged adoption organization but also a sanctuary for the parrots that are not necessarily adoptable for a variety of reasons. With the stable climate of Hawaii, the birds are able to be housed outside in large flight aviaries and many times are housed with species of the same kind (well, once in a while with a special parrot that is not of the same species). Through trial and error they have designed and developed amazing housing for the parrots that are under their care. The story behind each parrot was the same stories we hear here in Southern California. In speaking with Dorothy she confirmed what the latest research has begun to indicate: that these animals are naturally used to living with members of the same species and seem to do better whether housed together or just in visual contact with each other. Many of the aggression problems that are seen in birds that have lived alone diminish when introduced to one of their own kind. It was breathtaking to see these magnificent animals still come to their human caretakers but also interact with each other in an obvious flock setting.
Another place that I was able to visit while in Hawaii for two weeks was the Pana Ewa Rainforest and Zoo. Though the zoo was a beautiful place to take a walk and charges no fee for visiting, I was heartsick to see the cages the birds were kept in. Many of the enclosures reminded me of the Bronx Zoo, in the area where I grew up back in the late 70’s early 80’s. The habitats were overgrown with foliage and there was no room for the birds to fly around, or even move much, it seemed. No toys were available for them to play with, so all they could do was sit on perches and be stared at by visitors. The diet we saw being offered was some pelleted diet but the food bowls contained large amounts of sunflower seeds, as well. My partner and I were so saddened by visiting these parrots that we got the contact information so that we could send a care package to be shared by all the birds in the care of the zoo. We also plan on including some literature and handouts on diet and care, and hope that those in charge may take the information seriously. I am certain that as a local government-run facility, funding is limited. It is sad to say but it is a reality that money is necessary for all organizations that are providing care and shelter for our feathered friends. It is my dream that one day PEAC may find the individual or a group of individuals that would consider leaving a large enough estate so that PEAC can develop not only a place for all the birds to live in, but also offer sanctuary for those birds that have been in the foster program for years and for those parrots that are deemed not to be a good fit for the current way PEAC operates its program for intakes.
The article in this issue of our newsletter addresses the overpopulation that we all know exists in our country. This year I not only plan to finally start visiting schools to educate the upcoming generations about parrots but also to try to work together with other rescues such as Best Friends and Last Chance at Life, so that together we may be able to help all the birds in need of a new place to call home. All rescues, I will admit, are struggling for the same funding, but I feel strongly that if we can put the money issues aside and so long as the organization holds true to the same issues that are stated in our mission statement, there is no reason we cannot work together to find ways to help address the ever-growing problem of parrots being relinquished.
Once again, I want to thank you for your all that you give to PEAC, whether it was by donating to our yearly fundraiser, renewing your annual memberships, or volunteering your time and help. Without you PEAC would not be able to continue the heartfelt work we do.
Wishing all of you the best in 2015.