In the wake of Hurricane Ian, a menagerie of parrots were rescued from a Pine Island bird sanctuary after its owners refused to leave without them.
Even though authorities pleaded with locals to leave their houses due to damaged roadways, including a collapsed bridge that stopped deliveries of food, gas, and other life-sustaining supplies, Will Peratino and his companion Lauren Stepp would not leave their Pine Island property. However, the couple was unable to leave without their two lemurs and flock of 275 parrots, which included some of the rarest birds in the world. In order to convince Peratino and Stepp to leave the island, a rescue mission known as "Operation Noah's Ark" was executed to capture, cage, and ferry the birds off the island.
'We would not abandon them. I would never leave them. Never' — Rescuers worked together to save 275 parrots stranded by Hurricane Ianhttps://t.co/SFQiJUSurM— NowThis (@nowthisnews) October 6, 2022
Since Hurricane Ian hit, wildlife officials have been donating food to the birds, but due to the downed bridge and the island's lack of gasoline, it will soon be difficult to get bananas, peanuts, and other eatables. With wind gusts reaching 150 mph, Hurricane Ian pummelling Southwest Florida a week ago, blocking some highways and preventing access to islands. Dangerous flooding was caused by ocean surges and wind-driven rain. The sanctuary owners corralled their flock of birds and crammed them into their houses in the days before the storm to protect them from the wrath of the elements.
A menagerie of parrots has been rescued from a bird sanctuary on Pine Island, Florida, which was devastated by Hurricane Ian. Volunteers caught and caged 275 parrots, then ferried them to the mainland. https://t.co/eJ1xnV4lyS— The Associated Press (@AP) October 5, 2022
“You don’t know what we’ve been through here. To have every bird safe is a huge undertaking,” Peratino said. “I mean, it’s almost impossible to do. So the kind of help we’ve gotten has been invaluable.”We had four feet of water in the house, damned-near drowned,” Peratino said, before bursting into a puddle of tears. Many of the birds were saved from homes where their care was no longer possible. A few are employed in the breeding of uncommon species. While many search and rescue operations have been centered on saving human lives, there have also been efforts to save animals.
“We would not abandon them. I would never leave them. Never. If they cannot be fed or watered, they will die. And I can’t live with that,” said Stepp.
As per the NY Post, Project Dynamo founder and director Bryan Stern claimed his crew has saved at least six dogs, three cats, and before the Noah's Ark rescue, three birds. Project Dynamo constructed four boats for the task “Our animal numbers are about to be blown out of the water by 100 cages of parrots,” Stern said, before embarking on the rescue mission.
“It’s been nuts,” said James Judge, who owns the boat “Slice of Life,” which led the small flotilla of rescue boats. “Will and Laura, who own the sanctuary, their hearts and souls are in the birds. So they’re going through their own suffering from the hurricane,” Stern said, “and having to rebuild their lives. They lost all kinds of stuff. Is the answer to that to lose more?”
The volunteers confined the birds in cages for a number of hours on Tuesday using nothing but nets and their bare hands. The birds squawked and fluttered their wings as their keepers caged them, including rare king parrots (only two dozen pairs are kept in the United States), cockatoos, and macaws. But, even after all the resistance shown by the birds in deafening whistles and flapping wings, the rescuers did an impeccable job of making sure every last one of them was kept in safety.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images / Frans Lemmens