A once world renowned refuge for abandoned animals and tourist attraction is about to close and the hundreds of parrots it houses are being distributed to new caregivers.
The World Parrot Refuge in Coombs has fallen on hard times since the passing of its founder earlier this year, and the founder’s husband says its turned into a nightmare ending to what started as a love story.
Tourist Cindy Shann says she had to see the world renowned Coombs Parrot Refuge while she still could.
“Yeah we came today because we know there’s some changes happening and the parrot refuge might not be here for very much longer. So we need to see them now,” said the bird lover visiting the site Thursday.
At one time 800 abandoned parrots lived here. But since the founder of the refuge Wendy Huntbatch’s death in February, her husband says its gone into disarray and hundreds of birds have vanished.
“Two thirds of the birds have disappeared from here,” says Horst Neumann.
Now Horst Neumann says he just wants the birds gone to safe homes and to close the place for good. Neumann says the board that watched over the charity has abandoned the birds since Huntbatch’s death and that since he’s the owner of the property he’s left holding the bag and the hundreds of previously abandoned birds as well.
“Who’s in charge? At the moment nobody,” says Horst. ” The short answer is when the birds are gone it’s gone and if that takes a couple of weeks that’s what it takes. But that’s where we are? Yeah that’s where we are after 22 years yeah.”
Workers say its been a stressful end to a woman’s dream of a forever home for these birds.
“Just so many people saying so much things bad about it that we’re all working our hearts out. You have to come see it to believe it. It’s crazy,” says employee of four years Roy Nordal.
And Neumann agrees, thinking of his late wife.
“Oh of course she would have been devastated,” says Neumann.
But it costs $40,000 a month to keep the facility going, and the SPCA says many birds need care they haven’t been receiving until veterinarians stepped in this week.
So the SPCA is now watching the facility intensely, and recommending the birds be dispersed as soon as possible.
“We’re still waiting for decisions and I’m sure that will happen in the next couple of days,” says Neumann.
Finding homes for 450 birds that until Wendy Huntbatch accepted them had no where else to go.
So many people now stepping up to help from across BC a testament to the impact the refuge’s late founder has had on the cause of abandoned birds.