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Parrot refuge funding soars

Mar 09 2012
World Parrot Refuge co-founder Wendy Huntbatch. 

World Parrot Refuge co-founder Wendy Huntbatch.

Photograph by: Danielle Bell, Nanaimo Daily News , timescolonist.com

Birds at the World Parrot Refuge in Coombs are flying high with news that funding for the sanctuary will be restored to the same level as three years ago.

"I am so excited about this I want to tell the world," said co-owner Wendy Huntbatch, after she was told the centre would receive $45,000 on top of the $55,000 it received in January.

One of the first expenditures will be expanding the flight cage for the ever-increasing number of cockatiels, Huntbatch said.

"We'll give them another 15 feet, which is huge," she said.

The parrot refuge, which has about 900 abandoned, abused or unwanted birds from across Canada, was one of the agencies that had its gaming grants eliminated in 2009.

The sanctuary was picked out by Rich Coleman, then the minister responsible for the grants, as an example of an organization that should not be receiving government funding.

"You can close down a library or a museum, but you can't do that when you're dealing with living creatures, so it was horrific for me," Huntbatch said.

Premier Christy Clark boosted the grant program by $15 million in January, once again allowing funding to go to animal welfare, environmental, and adult arts and sports groups.

The annual budget for the refuge is about $550,000, with most of it coming from donors and fundraisers.

"I buy $2,000 worth of nuts every three weeks and my Hydro bill was $2,900 this month," Huntbatch said.

Much of the money also goes to educating people that parrots are wild animals and do not make good pets.

"Very few people can make a 60-or 70-year commitment to an animal and they're supposed to live in flocks, not in a cage in someone's house," she said.

The parrot refuge is the only sanctuary of its sort in Canada.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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