8. Disappearance, Death, and Derision
Alarm rose – throughout 2012 and 2013 – at our inability to see Wallace,
our Blue and Gold Macaw. Voiced concerns met with the (by now) mantra of:
“Oh, he’s part of a flock: he doesn’t want to see you.”
That bit of callous ignorance was voiced along with the insulting
and personally offensive: “He’s there: you just don’t recognise him.”
Our birds had been part of our family for fourteen years –
we had raised them from infancy; and now the arrogance of these
‘fly-by-night’ pet-shop attendants took ready occasion
to insult our intelligence and degrade our common sense.
It required every ounce of self-control to say nothing,
and continue our search for Wallace with renewed determination.
In May of 2014, we had full-face enlargements made of Wallace
and were determined, at our next upcoming visit, to scrutinise
every Blue and Gold Macaw on the premises and
– if Wallace was still not found – demand answers.
But the misery of this place was not confined to merely one of our two birds.
On the 5th of May, we discovered, through the soulless medium of an email message
dated 28th April, that, on the 23rd of April, 2014, Sarah – our cockatoo –
had died after several weeks spent in the owner’s house
where she was kept in the suspicion that she was seriously ill.
[ NOT, we noted, taken to a Veterinarian on the suspicion that she was seriously ill. ]
Eight years of contributions and physical labour on our part
was not enough to deem us worthy of the common courtesy
of being notified when our bird showed signs of on-going physical distress.
And now, she was dead.
Arriving on the 20th of May, 2014, not one of the thoughtless minions
possessed so much as a shred of empathy enough to offer a word of condolence.
With the sole exception of the kind-hearted fellow who worked on the open rubbish heap
behind the facility, empathetic sentiment such as:
“I’m sorry that your bird has died”
was beyond the capacity of those staff who were present that day.
Frustrated at the absence of what used to be known as ‘common human decency’,
I again looked – scrutinised – every single Blue and Gold Macaw and,
not seeing Wallace, asked for some help in locating him.
The ludicrous girl “in charge” that day, told me that she would have
no idea which bird that was. And that I should …
… “think happy thoughts”.
To realise the infantile standard of intelligence and maturity
that was now ‘responsible’ for these confined animals … was truly staggering.
Those who truly are fit to teach, lead, or take upon themselves responsibility
… will … have the prerequisite ability to maturely exercise discernment,
dispense compassion, and apply wisdom.
But this – this – is the puerile mentality into which I had placed
the welfare of our beloved birds: a facility where infantile statements
come from the staff in charge;
whose owner decried the capability, knowledge, and proficiency
of readily-available, experienced people in the area,
who loved, and cared for – and were experienced with – exotic birds.
And, of course, possessing an arrogant narcissism that was wilfully oblivious
to the unimaginable concept that anything could ever be wrong with … her …
standard of ‘care’.
With utter lack of mature discrimination as to individual circumstances,
the owner and her underlings continue to ‘shovel’ birds into a warehouse;
and congratulate themselves on the wonderful ‘mercy’
that they show to the inmates of this bleak penitentiary.
And while even this will be an improvement for any birds that are actively,
physically abused, a mature mind will exercise discretion:
and be capable of discerning and distinguishing between sadistic savages
… and loving bird owners.
But no such mental acuity exists here.
This is NOT “about the birds”.
If it was, those birds seeking human care and attention
– Cockatoos reaching out to passing visitors through the chain-link fence enclosures –
would be reunited with regretful owners who realised their mistake;
or fostered to caring homes who would love to heap affection
on attention-starved birds. But such will never happen here.
In the manifest philosophy of the World Parrot Refuge, no one should own birds.
No one, except the owner of this bleak zoo.
This is a “home for life”. And here, any bird that is the subject of a signature
– by whatever means – truly does receive a life sentence.
And any Veterinarian [ whom we could name ] that is aware of the conditions
of this disgusting cement warehouse – as well as the farcically-named SPCA –
is a contributor and willing participant in the cruelty
– through neglect, disease, rats, filth, and lack of professional medical care –
under which these hundreds of birds are subjected on an hourly basis.
9. My Disgrace
I hope and trust that this article may be used to awaken the ignorant …
and make some modern-minded person stop in their mad rush
to acquire the latest vanity gadget; or complacently have their brain
further turned to soap by the latest piece of mental and moral sewage from Hollywood,
and instead – spend their time, showing empathy to any animal that is in their care.
I want to oblige complacent owners who take their dog …
their cat … their aquarium … or their birds … for granted,
to consider those animals that depend upon them for affection.
I was fed a malignant fairy-story about birds deserving to “be part of a flock”
– which would later be changed to ‘letting them live as they would in the wild’.
Like the Canadian couple – and others who have related their experiences,
our consciences were manipulated by the owner’s arrogant presumption
that our birds were miserable living with us.
That they should be … “free”.
The birds at the World Parrot Refuge are captives in one of a half-dozen large cages
with a population from whose aggressive members, they can neither escape, nor fly away.
An open rubbish tip in the back of the building is a paradise for the infestation
of rats that swarm through the place.
Bird faeces lies encrusted on rusted cages and suspended tree branch perches.
It even lines the walls.
In wanting to give my birds the opportunity to try … try! … a life with other birds,
I gullibly signed that form – after all,
“… it’s just to say that you know your birds are here.”
I placed my beloved birds into a penitentiary to fend for themselves
in a world where they, and other quiet or timid birds
not only could – but would – be attacked, mutilated, and killed.
There is no Empathy at the World Parrot Refuge.
And no Humility to learn from those who could help.
I am tormented – every night, (until sleep, or a sleeping pill,
brings a few hours of relief) – with the dreadful realisation
that I have taken Sara and Wallace from the security, safety,
and personal affection of our quiet and loving home,
and let them die in a place like that.
10. A Public Testament of Character
How you treat an animal that is dependent upon you reveals the extent – or lack –
of your character: to the animal, to yourself (if you possess the humility to see it),
and to everyone who is around you.
Caring for an animal is a privilege: it is an exercise in character,
self-discipline, and compassion.
I betrayed my birds because I was taken-in by the slick sales pitch
of a self-proclaimed “expert” who had the money to build a ‘free flight’ facility.
It was only in the last few weeks that I found out that there have been
many folk who had succumbed to the lunatic fantasies of this woman.
An animal that knows nothing but human companionship,
will crave human companionship.
Hug your dog.
Stroke your cat.
Say hello to your goldfish.
But, for pity’s sake, do something kind to deserve their trust.
Wallace, the Blue and Gold Macaw – who trusted me for his well-being –
vanished from the callous savagery of this “parrot refuge”
… and is either dead from brutality, or disease;
or sold, or stolen, and confined in misery somewhere,
for the sole reason that …
I put him there.
And that is a burden that tortures my mind,
and will lie continually upon my conscience,
of my life.
Throughout the day – every day – is like waking up from a nightmare
only to realise that you are still in it.
Should something in life cause a moment of laughter, it is immediately choked
by the memory of this place; and its legacy of death, and misery,
and callous disregard for its victims – human and animal.
The daily grief caused by this atrocity is a sensation of suffocating
… an overwhelming despair
that never fully goes away.