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 one of a 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.

Founded by Wendy Huntbatch and her husband, the World Parrot Refuge shelters over 800 parrots from more than 50 species, with the birds lovingly cared for by a team of dedicated staff and volunteers. The facility is open to the public so that everyone can learn more about these wonderful beings. Wendy Huntbatch shares how she and her husband first got started in this amazing adventure.

Well it wasn’t a plan, I can tell you that much. What happened was I had parrots of my own. I had made the mistake of buying one for a pet and felt horribly guilty in a very short period of time realizing what I’d done, that this was totally wrong. So I had to get him a friend so he wouldn’t be alone. And I met my husband who also had a bird. So we bought one for him too and so we had the four. And then there was another one that no one wanted so we had this one. So there were five parrots.

And then in a very short period of time somebody gave us another one. It was an old man and he was going into a home and couldn’t keep the bird. So we said, “This is fine.” So we looked after him. We took our birds to work with us every day. Both of us are workaholics, so we took them with us and brought them home. They had free flight where we were. And if we were going for a dinner or something, we’d put them in big 10 foot flights, two birds to each flight, so that they weren’t compromised in any way and everything was safe.

One night the Huntbatch’s workplace was burglarized, and the next morning the couple discovered that some of their beloved parrot companions had disappeared.

Four of the big birds had gone. It was just a nightmare, a total nightmare for us. So I contacted newspapers, television, and radio. I posted the whole entire town.

Well I’m pretty well known because I’ve been in animal rescue all my life and people trust me. So people started phoning and saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t know where your birds are. I don’t have your birds. But I have a bird I can no longer keep. Would you please take her?” And in two weeks, we had 15 large birds. And I’m talking Macaws here, really large birds.

As more and more parrots came into their lives, Wendy Huntbatch’s husband felt a deep awakening from within, and realized that he had discovered his life’s mission.

My husband is the son of a minister. And his father always wanted him to go into the ministry. But he just didn’t have the feeling to work with people in the ministry. It just wasn’t him. And when the birds started to come in, and he loves birds, he just loves them, and he was covered in these birds, he said, “This is the ministry that God wants for me to do. I have to save birds.” We had just a small business with very little money. But every time more birds came to us, the business did that little bit more.

God made sure we had enough money to look after the birds.

The Huntbatch’s keep their doors and hearts open, and thus their flock of bird companions continues to grow.

Because we’re open to the public and our website is active, people can see us and they just keep coming. This morning I opened my email, “Will you please take my two Amazon parrots?” and “Will you please take my Moluccan Cockatoo?” That was at six o’clock this morning I had those two. So it’s non-stop.

Why do parrot caregivers sometimes no longer wish to look after these beautiful and majestic birds?

The majority of the problems that we see, when birds are e-mailed into me or phoned in to me or brought in to me, people’s lives change. Everybody’s life changes! So they buy something and they want to devote their life to this bird who could live up to 75 years and their life changes. They get married. They get divorced. They have a baby. Mother comes to live with them, mother leaves them, or the grandfather comes. There’s all these changes in life. They move house. They downsize. They have to go out to work. All these things which are normal for us are changing the life of this poor parrot.

Given their long lifespan, some of the birds arriving at the Refuge are already “senior citizens.” But Wendy Huntbatch joyfully accepts them all. Let`s meet Elvis, one of the elder avian residents.

Elvis is a very old man. He’s totally blind. And when I took him to the veterinarian’s office about five years ago, she said, “That’s the oldest Cockatoo I’ve ever seen in my life. He will never see 60 (years of age).” And he’s still going strong. He loves to tear up boxes. This is his favorite pastime. We give him a box and two to three days and it’s gone. As long as he’s happy, we’re happy. It’s okay Elvis.

Sometimes another bird will open the cage and go and visit with Elvis and he likes that.

Some of the parrots brought to the sanctuary have been horribly mistreated. This is the sorrowful case for both Dinky Doo and Lucky Lou.

Every bird that comes in here has a story. We had one come in, Dinky Doo, he’s an Umbrella Cockatoo. But he was a featherless Umbrella Cockatoo who was very, very angry. He was caught in the wild probably 30 years ago and quite often when they catch birds in the wild, they break their wings so they don’t fly away. And people think that’s a benefit because they don’t fly away. So they don’t fix them properly. The bird has to suffer until they mend themselves, (which is) very painful.

And with Dinky, he’d also broken his legs somewhere along his lifetime and the leg was never fixed. So he’s quite crippled. His beak is curved. That’s a deficiency, a vitamin deficiency early in life. So he was so badly treated. So he had next to no feathers. And you could see that his eyesight is very poor. And I think this is part of his anger. And he’d been used by a breeder and I say ``used`` in the full sense of the word. They do use them. But a couple that I know who rescue a lot, they purchased him and brought him to the sanctuary.

And Lucky, she came in about two years before him. Lucky Lou. She was emotionally abused. When she came in, she also had no feathers at all, nothing. Her little body looks like a little human body. The only difference is our hands are like this, theirs grow down for the long wing feathers. That’s the only difference when you look at them. And Lucky is a very sweet little bird but she’d had a horrible time.

She was in the basement of this house because the lady didn’t like to look at her because she plucked her feathers out. So she left her alone in the basement of a house. And when the lady would feed her, I know this is it because her voice was the lady’s voice, she adopted the lady’s voice. She’d stretch up and bring out her little wings, but they were arms because there were no feathers and she’d shake first, then she’d say, “I hate you. I hate you. You’re a bad, bad bird. You’re so ugly, I hate you.”

Well this little bird, her soul was gone. And we cried, but crying didn’t do anything so we knew we had to change things. So we’d start to sing “Happy Birthday to You.” And we looked very foolish and sounded very foolish. None of us can sing. But it changed her thoughts. Now she sings “Happy Birthday.” She has none of those times anymore and she’s grown a number of feathers back. They don’t grow in coordination; they just grow. But this is okay. We love her anyway.

Well when she saw Dinky come in, she goes over and she’s talking to him. And every time a human goes by him, he lashes out. We were bitten quite badly many, many times. And she stopped him from doing this. And progressively during the time, he calmed down. But he also went blind. And he’s totally blind. So she is his “seeing eye bird.” She takes him everywhere. She looks after him. She makes sure that he’s okay. She takes him to the food. If you put new things in for them to play with, she takes him there. It’s very beautiful.

How does the World Parrot Refuge manage to get enough food to feed 800 birds? What happens when a new bird joins this gigantic flock? What is Wendy Huntbatch’s wonderful dream? Join us tomorrow on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants as we continue with part two of our three part series on the World Parrot Refuge.

For more details on the World Parrot Refuge, please visit www.WorldParrotRefuge.org

Thank you for your presence today on our program. Enlightening Entertainment is coming up next, after Noteworthy News. Like a bird, may your spirit soar ever higher with each passing day.