Shining World Compassion Award: For the Love of Parrots: Canada’s World Parrot Refuge - P2/3    
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Everywhere in the world, we can observe and be touched by acts of kindness. People from all walks of life, faiths, and cultures extend themselves beyond the call of duty to help others unconditionally. Through their noble deeds, humanity as a whole is elevated.

To commend virtuous actions and encourage more people to be inspired by their examples, Supreme Master Ching Hai has lovingly created a series of awards, including the Shining World Leadership Award, Shining World Compassion Award, Shining World Hero and Heroine Awards, Shining World Honesty Award, Shining World Protection Award, Shining World Intelligence Award, and Shining World Inventor Award, to recognize some of the most exemplary, generous, caring, and courageous people who walk amongst us.

Today we present part two of our three part series on the World Parrot Refuge, a non-profit organization that has been honored with the Shining World Compassion Award by Supreme Master Ching Hai.

This bird sanctuary, operated by the “For the Love Of Parrots Refuge Society” in Coombs, British Columbia, Canada, provides a “Home for Life” for parrots who have been abused or had a caregiver who could no longer look after them. In addition to providing all its avian residents a permanent home, the Refuge is also a facility where the public can learn about parrots. Young school children are often deeply touched when they see these majestic and noble birds first hand.

The Refuge’s environment is designed to replicate, to the extent possible, the birds` natural habitat. Most of the inhabitants are free to fly and forage for food in the safety of the 2,100 plus square meters of heated indoor free-flight aviaries. There are over 800 birds from more than 50 species and the Refuge’s co-founder and president Wendy Huntbatch now describes what happens when a new bird arrives.

When they come in, they stay in their own cage usually for 48 hours. And all the other birds that are in that compound will come down and speak to them. So then after 48 hours we open the cage and the bird can come out or stay in or other birds can go in. They make these choices. But we’re very close to them all the time that this is happening.

And then you see them, they make friends very, very quickly because they are a flock species. They’re not a species like a cat who’s quite happy to be independent sitting on your lap for the rest of their life. A parrot isn’t. A parrot needs a flock. They make friends, and eventually they’ll create a small flock of their own species. When you come in you’ll see that they’re in individual areas for different species of birds. The same birds roost in the same tree every night. And then the flights are about 100 feet long on the inside.

Ms. Huntbatch and the Refuge’s staff want the beloved parrots to enjoy the type of food they would normally eat in nature.

In the wild, parrots eat seeds and nuts and fruits and berries and all the natural types of things. They eat flowers. They’re a vegetarian type of living being. So we feed them; we get a huge variety of seeds. We mix them all together and then we give it to them. Nuts we buy. I spend CAD$1,400 a week on nuts for these birds because nuts are so important for them. They have large beaks and it’s just so important that they get the food that nature meant for them. And we feed them fruits and vegetables, they just get everything. They’re very lucky. One of the local supermarkets has taken them under their wing and they send us all the fruits and vegetables that we need for these birds.

Let’s go and meet Millie and Babe, two of the delightful inhabitants of the World Parrot Refuge.

Those two have been together for 17 years. Millie, which is the one on the left, she’s a Miligold. She’s a a hybrid bird. She was given to me 17 years ago from another sanctuary. And then Babe is the Blue and Gold with her. Babe was my bird. And he was a year old when Millie came. And Millie just said, “This is my husband for the future,” and she took him.

She’s had a bath obviously. Her feathers are all sopping wet. She’s had a good bath so he’s helping to groom his beautiful wife. As you can see these birds, they’re all sort of together. When they first come in, they always come in alone. And it takes them no time to make friends. And then, like you can see this couple here, (they become) very close friends. They become pairs. We saw a few moments ago the Jenday and the Sun Conure preening each other.

At night you should see them. They sit together in two’s and they preen each other and you just know how close they are to each other. Nobody should ever be alone in this world and they never are when they come here.

So they’re just amazing. Look there, isn’t that beautiful? Look at that. Isn’t that just beautiful watching them fly instead of being stuck in a cage with their wings clipped. There’s no comparison. When you’re visiting these birds, you don’t need to say much at all I think. Just looking at them says most of it. When you see them fly, it says it all. I think most of them are getting pretty full now because they were fed early this morning. The birds here get to forage which is a normal lifestyle for a parrot.

Every bird arriving at the World Parrot Refuge has a story, and because this is a home where abused birds also come to stay, some individuals have very sad stories. Such is the case for Spirit.

This is Spirit. Spirit is a Military Macaw that was caught in the wild as you can see by this horrible band that he has on his leg. Two years ago almost, it was in August, we had a call from a lady who was very upset. She knew about this parrot that was in a cardboard box and was dying, and was very ill and needed rescuing. The bird was sitting in a cardboard box in the heat of August without any food, without any water.

And normally birds, parrots are like other birds, they eat first thing in the morning and they eat last thing at night. And he’d had nothing to eat or drink. He was in this much excrement and dirt. It was just horrific. They called him Spirit because even with all this, he had the will to live. So when we got him here, I examined him and you can feel, when you feel down his spine, that there’s a break in the spine.

So we took him to the veterinarian. We had two different vets do two X-rays each. His spine had been broken once and then six weeks later, broken again. So his legs don’t work. But he’s definitely happy. He has a wonderful life. His heart works and his mind works and his voice works and his wings work. He can even demonstrate flying.

Can we see you fly sweetheart?

He needs help.

Oh look at that, look at that.

Now is that a happy face or what?

The African Grey is considered one of the most intelligent birds on Earth. We are now introduced to a few of the gentle African Greys at the Refuge.

In here’s a little African Grey. This little bird has epilepsy. Hi sweetie, are you there? Are you coming out? No? I don’t like being on television, I didn’t get my hair done today?

She’s really very sweet. She was totally featherless when she came in. She looked like a Q-tip and we couldn’t figure out, why every time she’d grow feathers, they would break. And then one day one of the staff said, “I think this bird is having a seizure but it only lasted a split second.” So we watched her all day and sure enough, she was having mild seizures, just instantaneous seizures. And of course she would fall and break her feathers. So now we’ve got her on medicine to stop the seizures. And she’s growing her feathers.

Now this is Casper. Casper’s a new addition into the family. She’s only been here for about three weeks, or he has I should say. Right Casper? That’s right. Do you have anything to tell us today Casper? Do you want to say I like being here? There. There we go. Casper spends a lot of time with this African Grey. His name eludes me at this moment in time. I have over 60 African Greys, it’s hard to remember who’s who.

Like many great people, Wendy Huntbatch has a dream.

My wish, my dream is that people would understand that they have to stop breeding these birds and selling them for pets, because it is a very bad thing to do. As you can see, I have over 800 (birds). This should tell people they don’t make good pets. They should stop the importation of wild caught birds. It should be illegal. Hopefully that will happen. Go and visit them in the wild. To watch parrots fly in the wild is the most fulfilling emotion you will ever have.

Gracious viewers, please join us again tomorrow on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants for the conclusion of our three-part series on the World Parrot Refuge, featuring the presentation of the prestigious Shining World Compassion Award to this amazing sanctuary.

For more details on the World Parrot Refuge, please visit

Thank you for your presence today on our program. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May all beings be forever protected under the wings of Heaven.
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