Avian Expert Articles

Saving Parrots From Hurricane Ian

Two green Amazon parrots cling to pet carrier and a white, green and yellow Caique parrot clings to a pet carrier
Amazon parrots and a caique were among the birds evacuated during Hurricane Ian. Image by Malama Manu Sanctuary

Human nature is at its best when it is coalescing to help ease suffering and displacement. Not long ago, a lone veterinarian in Poland offered her services to the refugees coming into Poland from the war-torn Ukraine regions (we wrote about her incredible and selfless work in an article here). It is during times of crisis that real assistance – assistance not measurable in terms of dollars but more so in compassion – gets revealed in collective help that makes a difference in whether lives are saved or lost. With Hurricane Ian lashing unrelentingly through Florida and other states, it is inevitable that not only will people be impacted by its ferocity, so will the pet population that depends heavily on the people hurt by the storm.

The number of rare parrots (and other animals) affected by the storm number into the hundreds. The need to assist is never stronger than during a storm and often in the devastating aftermath. There are multiple tales in the Hurricane Ian storybook. Some of them are too important to ignore as they not only showcase human nature at its most intent, but it also pulls back the curtain on the human traits we know as love, and as care.

After the Storm

green-winged macaw parrot
A green-winged macaw is carefully handled while being evacuated during Hurricane Ian. Image by Malama Manu Sanctuary

The biggest story comes to light after the destruction of a bird sanctuary that is known as Malama Manu Sanctuary. It was in Pine Island, Fl., and was flooded by 4 feet of water, buffeted by strong gale-force winds. The owners, Will Paratino and his partner, Lauren Stepp, were asked to evacuate their home due to the unavoidable arrival of Hurricane Ian. But with the responsibility of around 275 parrots and other creatures, the couple refused to budge. Instead, they gathered up the birds and moved them into their house before Ian could pound its way through the region.

As it happened, an acquaintance of the couple who also owned a bird farm, considered acquiring a boat to assist in moving the parrots off the island to his farm in a bid to not only help save the lives of the owners of Malama Manu, but also every parrot in their care. It was brought to the attention of the friend that a volunteer group known as Project Dynamo was actively involved in helping rescue stranded creatures and people with four boats. With this new project, the team became busy collecting hundreds of macaws, cockatoos, and other parrots including a pair of ultra-rare King Parrots, and taking them to safety.

The brave but focused volunteers willingly dealt with frightened birds, prying them from separate cages and putting them into pens for easier transport. However, by the end of the operation, they had all birds, as well as two lemurs on the boat headed toward safer regions. The operation was notably called Operation Noah’s Ark. It succeeded in saving the life of every bird in the destroyed sanctuary. That is what kept Will and Lauren in the game to protect every bird within their care. In fact, the sanctuary was called Malama Manu for a reason: Malama is Hawaiian for “protect”, and Manu is Hawaiian for “bird”. With the blessings of Project Dynamo, their caring friend, their tenacious approach, and Operation Noah’s Ark, all birds now have a new lease on a once-endangered life. And everyone involved have a story to recount for future generations to appreciate and to retell.

The couple’s GoFundMe page,  so far has received $27,000 in pledges to help fund the estimated $200,000 for the rebuild. Our sincere hope is that the sanctuary and all its birds find their lives repositioned for a better outcome.

One thought on “Saving Parrots From Hurricane Ian

  1. God bless these wonderful and dedicated people and everyone who helped them.
    I hope their funding continues to grow to give them what they need to rebuild – money is tight for a lot of people and not everyone can help, but for those with extra dollars, it is people like these that could really use and deserve the help.

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