Wallace, our beloved Macaw, whose disappearance/death (?)
haunts me every day of my life, and torments me in my sleep.
Though the woman responsible has gone to a Higher Judge and
eternal judgment, the grief continues – and Wallace is still gone.
Part 1 …
A psychopath is a creature that is fully aware of the pain,
the anguish, the suffering that they have caused
and inflicted upon other people:
They simply do not care.
In loving memory of our gentle and affectionate macaw, Wallace,
who vanished – presumably savaged to death ? – taken and sold ? –
at the World Parrot Refuge on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
With owner and staff claiming ignorance; and following an obscenely callous
and utterly contemptuous message by email, making it clear that my wife and I
have no business asking for answers …
This is my warning and plea –
to any man or woman who might contemplate sending a bird
to this avian prison;
to tourists who might support it by paying the entrance fee;
to corporations who pour charitable funds into it; and
to anyone in the 21st century who might still possess a conscience,
and the ability to empathise,
this is my story …
Control, Confinement, and Contempt:
My Legacy of Grief from the World Parrot Refuge
“Why don’t you bring your birds over and give them the opportunity
to see if they want to be part of a flock?”
Were it content with its public façade as a refuge for abused or unwanted birds,
the World Parrot Refuge might well be applauded as a respite for birds
which could then be helped to find affection and security in the safety
of a loving family home.
But the reality is far more malignant.
Far from benevolent, to those people
who have had their consciences manipulated
to place their beloved birds in its “care”,
the World Parrot Refuge has demonstrated itself to be nothing more
than a calculated effort – where opportunity presents –
to swindle birds from the security of even caring family homes,
and place them into a penitentiary existence where they will be
forever deprived of human affection, safety, or even toys with which to play.
At the World Parrot Refuge, the consciences of caring bird-owners are preyed upon;
and human-habituated birds are forced to fend for themselves
against aggressors, filth, rats, and disease
in a prison population where they disappear into anonymity,
in a world of concrete and chain-link fencing.
“I need you to sign a form: It’s just to say that you know
your birds are here.”
At the time, it would never have occurred to my honest and congenial mind,
that I would soon be just another one of many victims who now realise
that our birds were nothing more than acquisitions – mere additions –
to a vanity collection.
I signed the paper.
One bird would die in the “care” of the World Parrot Refuge.
The other would disappear completely.
On the 21st of June, 2014, we had to accept what we already knew:
he had either been stolen; or was dead.
Grief-stricken with anguish following a two and a half year search through every inch of that facility, we began to ask for help in finding Wallace.
What we received in response was callous contempt
that staggered us with its cruelty.
An email message from the owner responded to our pleas
“The staff here are working for the birds. They are not here
for you to get assistance to find which bird you think may be the one you used to own.
I personally think that the staff have been very understanding
and have allowed you into the compounds. They are not paid to be your assistants.
I feel that it is time for you to realize that you gave away
all rights to the bird you used to own when you surrendered him.
If you had given him to another home who eventually sold him to yet another home,
you would not be allowed to go hunting through their homes.
I do not know what you believe a public appeal will do.
When people surrender children for adoption, their rights end there.”
And there it was.
The whole purpose for the World Parrot “Refuge” –
ownership, through theft, by emotional manipulation.
Homes who are qualified to take in children for adoption have a moral
and legal responsibility to provide SANITARY CONDITIONS,
QUALIFIED MEDICAL care and treatment,
and PHYSICAL PROTECTION from abuse and harm.
While we could not possibly have imagined that the World Parrot Refuge
provides NONE of these, this was certainly our reasonable expectation
when giving our beloved ‘children’ an “opportunity to see
if they want to be part of a flock.”
Nothing could have prepared us for receiving the type of ruthless,
soul-less malignancy that was beyond anything that my wife and I
had ever encountered at any time in our 50-plus years – much less
from a woman who had taken our years of unpaid labour;
gifts of thousands of dollars worth of personal possessions for sale in her ‘thrift shop’
which included a $450 Celestron telescope, full height, a swivel-mounted oak mirror;
as well as such practical donations as two free-standing oil radiators to heat the ‘shop’,
a free-standing home fan, an air conditioner,
even a tri-folding adjustable metal ladder for workmen to use
at the facility.
We had scrubbed floors, cut grass, cleaned debris;
staunched the blood, and bandaged the wounds of visitors
who had been bitten and found neither interest, staff, or first aid;
acted as ‘tour guides’ to others,
and did all we could to help this woman.
And now … the value of our “friendship” was made thoroughly evident
through a contemptuous email.
What we could not know – until after that day of the 22nd of June, 2014 –
was that we were, by no means, alone
in being discarded like so much disposable trash
the moment we had dared to question the conduct and ‘care’
at the World Parrot Refuge.
As would quickly be made evident by the accounts of others,
the birds at the World Parrot Refuge are possessions – objects;
captives that will never be allowed to know the warmth and affection
of caring human families.
There is not one shred of compassion forthcoming from the World Parrot Refuge:
Not to birds. And certainly, not to man.
This is the legacy of the World Parrot Refuge.
2. The Torment of Guilt
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast;
but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
For me, the character of any human being is discerned by the way he or she
treats an animal which is dependent upon his care; or at his mercy.
Many a young woman contemplating marriage, would have saved herself
a lifetime of misery had she but first stopped, and looked
at how her prospective spouse treated his dog, his cat,
or the fish in his aquarium.
The man or woman who has no capacity for empathy towards an animal,
will have no capacity for empathy to any person once they have
outlived their ‘usefulness’ … once they no longer serve to gratify some lust,
agenda, or personal vanity.
Such a ‘loved one’ … such a ‘friend’ … will quickly find themselves
thrown away like a disposable cup: used, and now no longer of any use,
they are discarded on the rubbish dump of a narcissist’s vanity.
There is no compassion when it interferes with the worship of Self
and the gratification of ego.
Nor is there competency in such an individual.
Birds born into captivity are PERPETUAL children
that require human attention:
they are not collectibles in a vanity collection,
to be figuratively ‘shovelled’ en masse into a room filled with other birds
to cringe in subjugation to the pecking order, die from disease,
or the brutality of aggressive birds.
When I brought our birds over for their ‘trial’ period,
the entrance to the parrot refuge consisted of a long desk, a till,
and a polite, efficient English lady named Judith.
There was an air of professionalism, cleanliness, and order.
Within two years, this illusion of proficiency had been utterly abandoned
in the seeming obsession to hoard ever more birds. Judith was gone;
and the entrance area became nothing more than a repository
for dirt, dust, droppings, and feathers.
But, back in 2006, that ‘hotel lobby’-like entrance allowed me to believe
that I was placing my birds into the hands of competent, organised people
– having been stupidly reassured by what would transpire to be an outright lie:
“If anything goes wrong, I’ll let you know.”
Looking back, I could never have imagined the torment of guilt and remorse
that would come from having ever learned of the existence of that place …
or the treachery that would be exercised upon other bird owners,
as well as ourselves.
– [ continued in Part 2 ]