Imagine if you lived every day in a place that did not have enough room for you to stretch your arms and legs. Too often this is the experience for exotic pet birds. Being sold in cages that are too small, and without buyers having proper knowledge of their behavior — or what they require to live a healthy and balanced life — creates a crisis for these fabulous creatures.
Papayago Rescue House, co-founded by Executive Director Brianna Stoddard and her mother, CEO Maria Sullivan, became a nonprofit in January 2015. The mother-daughter team, along with volunteers, work relentlessly to improve the care of parrots and to decrease the homelessness, abuse and neglect that sadly often goes along with keeping wild, exotic animals in our homes.
“Papayago Rescue House exists not only to rescue these birds from these dire situations, but also to educate the public on proper care, to help them thrive,” Stoddard said. “Lack of education, small cages, poor diet and (no veterinary care) leads to abuse. Problems like emotional stress, illness, self-mutilation and injuries happen as a result. Our mission includes rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming parrots. And, if they’ve got wings, other species aren’t excluded.”
The Marietta-based rescue organization has saved more than 600 birds since its inception and receives requests for pet surrenders on a weekly basis. As one of only two parrot rescues in the state, it serves all of Georgia. Feeding the 160 birds presently housed at Papayago requires 320 pounds of pellets every two months at a cost of $646.
One of the nonprofit’s top expenses is providing medical care. Parrots require the use of exotic specialists. “Our biggest call to action is to learn, adopt, volunteer, donate and support parrots in captivity,” Sullivan said. “A wonderful partner in the care of our incredible birds is one of my volunteers, Mike Bautsch. He founded a nonprofit called The Georgia Aviary in February of this year, which is in the beginning stages. This aviary will be a wonderful solution to the parrot crisis in Georgia and surrounding areas.”
“I have a big dream,” Bautsch said. “Our mission is to become the world’s largest aviary dedicated to the rescue and care of parrots right here in north Georgia. (Think Georgia Aquarium, except for parrots instead of marine life.) We strive to offer an exciting and unique attraction for visitors, while also promoting avian care and conservation.
“By providing a safe haven for rescued parrots, we hope to inspire visitors to become more aware of avian welfare and the challenges they face.”
Some of the bird species that will call The Georgia Aviary home include macaws, cockatoos, African greys, Amazons, conures, eclectus and lovebirds.
“Like Maria and Brianna, I have rescued parrots for years,” Bautsch said. “The Georgia Aviary will not only be a solution for the overabundance of surrendered birds, but also have a significant and positive impact on the local community. The aviary is projected to generate millions of dollars annually. In addition, the construction and ongoing operation of the aviary will create jobs and support our local economy in numerous ways.”
For more information, and to follow Georgia Aviary’s progress, visit thegeorgiaaviary.org. The aviary is moving forward in its search for land and corporate sponsorship. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any leads.
If you are interested in volunteering, need to surrender a bird or want to adopt, visit papayagorescuehouse.org. Papayago is not open to the public. Appointments are required to visit. You can schedule services, such as boarding or nail and beak trimming. To send the birds toys or support the rescue with supplies, visit https://bit.ly/3NC4JWD and birdieboxbirdtoys.com. For more details, email email@example.com.
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media
or at susanbrowningschulz.com.