If you’re searching for peace and quiet among the parrots at the Gabriel Foundation in Elizabeth, plug your ears or embrace the noise and nibbles.
“I am the shelter manager here,” Jessica Boone smiled, as an umbrella cockatoo named Agada nibbled her ear. “Sorry!” Boone laughed.
Boone helps care for hundreds of birds at the parrot welfare organization including the newest residents.
“There were 44 birds that came to us from a serious situation – an emergency situation from Easton, Pennsylvania,” explained Julie Murad, CEO and president of the Gabriel Foundation.
Murad said the Pennsylvania parrot sanctuary in financial trouble needed to relocate its flock. The Gabriel Foundation answered the call.
“We mobilized, we got vehicles, we got transport, we got crates lined up,” Murad said.
Last Friday, Jessica Boone and another staff member arrived in Pennsylvania. Getting there was the easy part.
“We did get stuck in a snowstorm for two days,” Boone said.
The storm was so bad, Boone, her colleague and the birds got off the road and booked a hotel.
“Forty four birds jammed into a hotel room was pretty entertaining,” Boone said.
They waited out the storm and pushed on with the parrots. All told, they spent more the 25 hours on the road. Murad said the Gabriel Foundation had faced more than a dozen situations similar to the one they encountered in Pennsylvania.
Just two months ago, the nonprofit took in 37 parrots from the West Palm Beach area. About eight years ago, they rescued more than 111 birds from Aurora. The hotel stay in a snowstorm was something new.
“Thankfully, nobody was on either side of [our room] or I believe above us so, the birds were not making too much ruckus for us,” Boone said.
The birds brought back to Colorado vary in species, size and age. Many of them need special care. Four of the birds died, and Murad suspects some had trouble adjusting to the altitude. The Gabriel Foundation hopes to find new homes for their new residents.
“We’re guessing that 30 to 35 of those birds can find homes,” Murad said.
In the meantime, the organization could use some help caring for the additional birds.
“The cost of taking in a group of birds like this is not just to get them here,” Murad explained. She said the cost of ongoing medical treatment, caging and day-to-day care adds up quickly.
Those interested in adopting one of the rescued parrots or making a donation can do so here.