Vancouver Island parrot refuge faces uncertain future
World Parrot Refuge was labour of love for Coombs woman who died in February
The future is up in the air for several hundred parrots at a sanctuary on Vancouver Island. The founder of the refuge died in February and now the birds may face eviction.
Wendy Huntbatch took in more than 600 parrots at The World Parrot Refuge in Coombs. The birds, many of which people found too challenging as pets, receive food and care.
"Parrots are not good pets. They are very destructive," said board member Lynn Keogh. "People find the idea is not as charming as they thought it would be."
The refuge property was transferred to Huntbatch's husband after she died, and he no longer wishes to be involved with the birds.
Horst Neumann said he spent millions of dollars over the years to support the refuge — and he's informed the society the arrangement needs to change.
"I've given them all kinds of options. So I'm expecting someone will get back to me with what their direction is," he said.
Those options include paying rent for the building — or purchasing the property.
But the society that operates the refuge relies on donations and admission fees from visitors and says it does not have the money.
Keogh said she also fears moving the birds would not honour Huntbatch's wishes.
"She did not want these birds to ever have to leave this place. She wanted them to have a home for life where they could be a part of a flock they have chosen and live a natural life as much as possible," she said.
Keogh said the society will have to look for somewhere else that can house hundreds of parrots — if an agreement can't be reached.