Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Parrot Release Update

21 January 2008

Categories: Homepage News, Zoo Check Campaign News

‘sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind’, that’s what I keep telling myself as we continue to pluck feathers from the African grey parrots.  It is a rather nasty procedure, which involves each parrot being anaesthatised and then having each and every damaged wing feather literally pulled out.    The birds feel nothing as they are unconscious, and, on waking up, they immediately climb to their perches, seemingly unaffected.

We have approximately 300 birds all with cut primaries, secondaries and/or glue damaged feathers that require plucking however the task has been made much easier with the arrival of Dr. Gino Conzo, avian veterinary specialist from Napoli, Italy, and his associate Mario d’Angelo.   They have flown here, funded by the World Parrot Trust, specifically to assist with the feather plucking procedure of the birds and they brought with them 6 bottles of the anaesthetic ‘isoflourane’ and lots of nutrient supplements to stimulate feather re-growth.  Since their arrival they have spent 8 hours a day slowly working their way through the birds, aneasthatising each parrot, removing damaged feathers and treating wounds.  We hope that by the time they leave on the 22nd January all of the parrots will have had all of their damaged feathers removed.  Thus will begin a 3 month convalescence period during which the feathers will slowly re-grow and, by the beginning of May, we hope that we can begin releasing these final 300 birds.

Fortunately the earlier crisis of the Chlamydia infection seems to be waning.  We changed the treatment to be given in-feed, and have been preparing a medicated mash with cassava flour, cracked corn, and oil which the parrots began eating almost immediately.  Consequently the daily death rate, that was approximately 5 birds a day, has reduced to almost nil. 

However, the enormous challenge that the arrival of 1220 parrots presented to us is not over, as we still have at lest 3 more months of looking after 300 plus birds and the costs remain very high.  Currently we are spending $200US per week on food alone, and the medicated food makes costs a lot higher still.  Your donations have been wonderful and have enabled us to have the success that we have had so far, but we do unfortunately need to beg for more assistance to see us through the coming months of feather recovery.  Only with your help can we get to the day when we can finally release all of the remaining 300 parrots.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the individuals and the organisations who have been so supportive of the Limbe Wildlife Centre and have rallied behind us to provide emergency funding, equipment and assistance in our hour of need: they are the World Parrot Trust, the Born Free Foundation, the Born Free Foundation – USA, the Humane Society, and all the individuals who have donated funds on the LWC’s Wildlife Direct website ( 

Thank you to you all.  

Dr. Felix Lankester

Project Manager

Limbe Wildlife Centre

see Will Travers' Blog for background

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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