Legacy of Grief: Parrot “Refuge” (Part 5)

Upon nearing the end of our final ‘visit’
to the World Parrot Refuge, upon being asked
by one of the youthful staff,
for which bird we were looking – we stated,
through barely-contained tears,
that we had been searching for two-and-a-half years
for our beloved Macaw;

and were now left with no alternative
but to give up all hope … and accept
that he had been stolen, or is dead –
either from disease,
or having been savaged in an attack.

The worker looked vacantly around the flight
and then presented us
with a dose of what passes for Sensitivity
at the World Parrot Refuge …

Said he:

“Well, that’s the way it is in the wild!”

We stood, incredulous … looking at this tattooed,
punk imbecile standing in the aisle
between two glorified cages filled with captive birds
who could never escape from the danger of attack,
or any other threat —

talking in his magnificent ignorance
about “the wild” …

until, that is – with the next breath, Callous Stupidity
turned to Offensive Pig-Ignorance
as he turned away, saying:

“Maybe you can get another one.”

You can get.
Another one.

And there it was – everything that we had
seen and experienced of the World Parrot Refuge:

the manipulation of caring bird owners;

the contempt of those who returned
to question the disappearance of their vanished birds;

the lies that are so freely and glibly spoken;

the derision of those who, like me, stupidly believed
that there would be a reasonable expectation of protection
and medical treatment afforded to every single bird
that was left in the “care” of this facility; and,

the reason that these captive birds are so cavalierly left
to fend for themselves against aggressors and disease
in its prison population

… summed up in one Simple brutal statement.

For us – and evidently others, there is
not a shred of compassion, human decency,
or empathy to be found anywhere
in the forced confines of the World Parrot Refuge.

As soon as the signature is on the form,
the bird becomes an anonymous, nameless captive
for whatever remains of its ‘life’:
just another object to be thrown into a collection.

And if it … ‘breaks’ … well, not to worry
– after all, We’ll be getting more.

It is this greed-saturated, self-venerating mind-set
that explains why it is utterly beyond the Owner
to even imagine – much less understand –
that the stroke of a pen on some piece of paper …

… will never, EVER remove the love and affection
from the hearts of those who actually have conscience
and capacity to possess it.

Such people do not care – in the least,
about the birds they steal by emotional manipulation;

the people they use for labour and donations;

or the trail of remorse, misery, and emotional trauma
that results from their greed to possess
every exotic bird that they can;

whilst immediately banning anyone who would Dare
to question their complacency, immorality,
incompetence, and mindless incomprehension
concerning avian “care”.

Although these people are bereft of anything
resembling a conscience … there ARE those
– who actually know about birds and avian care –
who oppose them.

And so it was that on the very same day
as this callous obscenity was directed to us …
I turned to Facebook.

It was, for me, a practical lesson
that taught me just how irretrievably removed I am
from modern humanity.

Turning in despair to modern humanity
that uses the Internet has left me shaken,
incredulous, and utterly without hope.

Forty Days of Futility: Leaving Facebook

On the 29th of July 2014, I closed down
my Facebook page from sheer disgust
at the unwavering and obscene apathy
of former “Refuge” staff members
who had witness testimony to give …
BUT refused so to do.

When, on the 12th of July, 2014,
my revulsion at the (unbelievable) apathy
reached an impossible-to-have-imagined height,
I received a message from one woman
who had done nothing but voice cynicism
from Day One:

“Any negative actions could put the 800 plus
residents in jeopardy” and then,
“… do not forget the ones that are still there”

This personally insulting sentiment
arrived along with the ‘advice’
that I should write to local newspapers
and small-time politicians in the area.

NEVER has self-control and the determined resolve
to remain a gentleman been more required
– and exercised – than it was when receiving
such stupid, mindless, childish and puerile ‘advice’ …

… or to see the ease with which people
who do nothing of significance,
heap scorn upon those who make a considered attempt.

My entire effort – the Open Letter placed on Facebook –
was directed towards:

WORLD-WIDE corporations,
NATIONAL government,
PROVINCIAL Canadian health authorities,
the MAJOR newspapers of EVERY city in North America,
in addition to
the world-wide audience of the INTERNET …

… and this woman is “advising” me to write
to some local newspaper editor?

What type of specious ‘reasoning’ does it take
to truly believe that I have not duly considered
the birds currently held captive at that ‘facility’ ?

Is it even possible that she can genuinely
believe that NOTHING of substance
should be done to relieve the dirt, disease,
and disappearances of those who are desperately
in need of relief, affectionate homes, and personal attention?

IS THIS the sum total of modern ‘thinking’ ?

‘There are 20 witnesses who know that children
are being physically abused in that house —
BUT we must not do anything to save them,
in case it might make matters worse’ …?

HAS the human brain become so liquefied
by television and technology, that THIS
is actually the level of 21st century “intelligence”?

‘I have terminal cancer,
but I am not going to have surgery
in case I die on the operating table.’

It was this same woman who had proclaimed earlier
that: “it is unclear as to what your agenda is.”


I have presented a twelve-point letter
that was expressed in words suitable
to the reading level of A Child –

And my intent is … “unclear” ???

Has the past 25 years of United Nations’
dumbing down the masses been so successful
that everything must be presented with childish icons
and cartoon pictographs?

Are supposedly English-speaking people
no longer able to understand sentences
phrased in articulate Oxford grammar?

I could never have imagined that THIS
was the state of modern humanity
in the 21st century:

“Whatever I am doing – Which is Nothing
… is better than anything you could do
by reaching the world-wide public,
as well as Canadian federal and provincial authorities.”

Through the puerile fantasy that piddling efforts
with local bureaucracy constitute “All that can be done”,

these ardent supporters-by-apathy of this
zoo for parrots congratulate themselves
with the self-assurance that Their Clique
of hand-wringing hypochondriacs
are the only ones capable of assessing the situation.

Buoyed up by the tranquillising effects of their own opinion,
they ardently and openly confess to having …
not the slightest clue about what to do next;

while luxuriating in the facile fantasy that
no greater effort is possible than their
former local attempts – which have resulted
in the sum total of … Nothing.

Little wonder that the owner of this refuge
from empathetic avian care speaks
with such derisive contempt about any
and all people who own birds.

And why should she not?
After all, there is no one, locally, who will stand in her way.
And she knows it.

Those who COULD raise such a formidable witness
as would demand government accountability
– – – do absolutely NOTHING of practical value.

To every Macaw who sits huddled alone and shivering;
to every Cockatoo with its leg fully extended through
the chain-link wire, trying desperately just to so much as
touch a passing tourist …

There is no help –

‘This could happen’;
‘That could happen’;
The ‘sky could fall’ –

And so, desperately lonely, affection-starved birds
will remain there day, after day, after day …

… while local people who Could tell the World about them,

run around wringing their hands – hoping for “an answer”
when an answer has been handed to them –
and which, they have refused.

Birds suffer or die … while they quibble
and write to minion politicians and newspaper editors.

What happened to the world in which we were taught
– as children in the 1960’s … responsibility, accountability,
and the moral obligation of conscience?

I do not understand people today;
and it is certain that they do not understand me.
But even I could never have prepared myself
for the past month on Facebook.

I asked for 12 people to come forward
to do what is morally right.
But – with the exception of one woman of integrity
– that was far too much to ask.

The FACEBOOK Notice … Posted 4 July, 2014

Proposed Letter to Government Authorities,
Charity Funding Corporations,
National Press across Canada,
‘Island’ Veterinarians,
Tourism British Columbia (hellobc.com)

Dear Folks,

Being actuated by conscience, it is my intent
to compose a FORMAL letter which may be sent,
by registered mail, to the above suggested offices,
if and as required,
which would relate to concerns over conditions
and conduct at the World Parrot Refuge.

The content of the letter would call for ACCOUNTABILITY
from the World Parrot Refuge.

The letter would include a personal narrative,
which could subsequently be ‘posted’ on the Internet,
so that any member of the GENERAL PUBLIC that reads it,
may be given CAUSE TO THINK before spending tourist dollars,
sending donations, or worse – recommending
the World Parrot Refuge as a fit place to receive any bird
not immediately suffering from the abuse of savage human beings.

I CANNOT, with any hope of success, do this ALONE.

In the hyper-cynicism and apathy of the 21st century,
the testimony of one person is dismissed as mere “opinion”.

If you would be willing to be part of this endeavour,
PLEASE SEND ME an account of your first-hand EXPERIENCE
of the World Parrot Refuge, which may be incorporated with the letter;

along with clear consent to use your narrative,
and to have your name and contact information displayed
as a numbered foot-note,
should the recipient wish to verify specific details.

One person may be ignored – twelve –
to anyone with a conscience – can not.

The concerns that I would like to address are:

1. Accountability for every bird that dies
in the “care” of that facility;

2. Accountability for situation and care of every bird;
provision of toys and appropriate mental stimulation
for, ALL birds;

3. Accountability for standards of HYGIENE
in food preparation areas;

4. Accountability to create proper RUBBISH –
food and organic waste – disposal;

5. Accountability for a regular assessment of RAT INFESTATION
by pest control service;

6. Accountability for what is told to people who consider
having their bird(s) left in that facility: (manipulation of conscience;
the imperative of signing a form);

7. Mature responsibility to extend COMPASSION and empathy
– to recognise the “human equation” in the surrender of a bird:
(ie. a ‘cooling off’ period to accommodate grief and remorse
at realising the loss of a family member);

8. Elimination of HOARDING – the indiscriminate grasping
after any birds, not merely those in peril;

9. Vastly improved HYGIENE and CLEANLINESS in the (so-called)
‘sick bay’ trailer;

10. Quarterly CHECKS on the WELFARE, hygiene, and mental stimulation
afforded all birds at the World Parrot Refuge, by a suitably qualified
(knowledgeable) inspector (ie. members of other parrot care facilities
in the Vancouver Island area;

11. Oversight of an impartial committee who are NOT AFFILIATED
with the owner or staff of the World Parrot Refuge;

12. Accountability for the use and disbursement of all charitable funds
received by the World Parrot Refuge.

If YOU have FIRST-HAND experience of working at, volunteering at,
or surrendering a bird to the World Parrot Refuge,
and have been troubled in conscience by things that you have seen
or heard, a detailed, personal account to be included in this endeavour
would be very welcome.

The letter will take the form of an academic paper – that is to say,
formally written, with appendices containing personal accounts;
and foot-notes directing the reader to the name and contact information
of each concerned contributor.

If the twelve points listed above are of CONCERN TO YOU,
I would be pleased to receive contributions by the 15th of July,
from all bird-loving folk who have had consciences
and sensibilities disturbed by their experience at the World Parrot Refuge.

I remain,
Yours faithfully,
Philip Livingstone

4 July. 2014


Read by over 1400 people.
One person with the moral integrity to ‘go on the record’.

Two – whom (I was personally assured) were present
when dead bodies were picked up off the floor,
and veterinary treatment was ignored – absolutely REFUSED
to say a word because it would make them (I quote) “uncomfortable”.

And several dozen others who Could Have spoken up,
but simply chose to ignore the whole endeavour.

What does it feel like, I wonder …

to be bereft of a moral conscience?

P Livingstone
Parrot “Refuge”
August 2014