If there’s one message that Wendy Huntbach would like to get out to the community it’s not about cancer or the artistic abilities of the parrots she looks after.
Rather, it’s about what a lousy decision it is to get a parrot as a pet.
“Parrots make terrible pets,” Huntbach said. “Why do we have over 800 of them? You see a budgie in a tiny cage in a kitchen, but in the wild budgies fly in enormous flocks, like starlings.
“They fly all the time and sometimes black out the sky. Now here they are, locked up in a tiny cage.”
Budgies, she added, can live for 25 years in the wild, but bird owners sometimes coo with excitement over the fact that their pet lived for a whopping eight years.
“They are fed the wrong food and deprived of companionship,” she said. “Being locked in a cage brings on an early death. It’s a very sad situation.”
Captivity isn’t just bad for the birds though, she said. It can also be bad for the owners.
“They can cause health issues,” she said. “Old World parrots give off huge amounts of dander and people who are allergic to it can get asthma. I have bird-keeper’s lung because I’ve looked after them for so long and I only have 57 per cent of my lung capacity as a result.”
She said many of the parrots come into the refuge because the owners’ health concerns.