Archive for The Bronx Zoo

A Conviction Of The Heart

Posted in Chloe, Kacey, Macaw, Moluccan Cockatoo, Rescue & Rehabilitation, Training, Uncategorized, Zazu with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by angelsofflight

Kacey - My Inspiration

When people ask me the question, “What made you start Angels Of Flight?”; I tell them a story of a 6 year old girl who was at The Bronx Zoo in New York in the summer of 1976.  The story starts out as a normal family outing that went very wrong in the afternoon.  While visiting the World Of Birds exhibit, an Umbrella Cockatoo (obviously wild caught since we’re talking 1976) was being exhibited by one of the handlers.  The 6 year old girl was allowed to pet the Cockatoo and for reasons unknown back then, the Cockatoo quickly turned and jumped out of the handlers grip and landed on the little girl.  While the Cockatoo was fluttering about on the little girl he began to bite her and attack her face while the handler and the little girls parents tried rapidly to get the bird off of her.  Scared and crying and bleeding, the little 6 year old girl was deathly afraid of birds from that day on.  Every time she saw a bird she would remember the horrid experience of her childhood and become so scared that she would turn and run in the other direction.  That memory stayed in the little girls mind until she was 37 years old…That little 6 year old girl was me.

Fast Forward…June 2007…

After landing a job at a major pet store I immediately made it very adamant that I was deathly afraid of birds and did not want to have anything to do with them, the Operations Manager thought it quite funny and put me in charge of the bird department…he wasn’t a nice guy…in fact he was quite sinister.  With that being the only job availability in a failing economy, I suppose I had to comply to his outrageous request and take care of these flying creatures that wanted to take my face off.  Everyday was one disaster after another.  I would go home absolutely stressed out. Until one day I made up my mind to try and get over my fears.

Kacey playing with her "Peek-A-Boo" blanket

While working in that glorious bird department and cleaning cages I became friendly with a Sun Conure.  He was beautifully colored and quite a little smarty pants.  every morning I would say hello, he would “wolf whistle” at me and I would thank him for the compliment.  He would come out of his cage and greet me in the morning and I would proceed to clean his cage and give him fresh water and food.  When it was time to go back in his cage I had to get one of the other managers to do it because I was afraid to touch him (again…that damn Cockatoo memory).  One day when it was time to go back in his cage, he lifted his foot at me…cautiously I lifted my finger to him and he stepped up and while shaking like a leaf, I gently put him back in his cage.  I was so excited that I ran out around the store to tell everyone (I must have looked like a complete idiot!).  I was so proud of myself.  I started reading up on Sun Conures and what their true feeding requirements were.  The pet store provided the basics and as I know now…not very admirable or adequate basics.  After all, if I was going to save the $699.99 to buy this little guy from the pet store, I would need to know the correct way to care for him.

Fast Forward…December 2007…

Kacey - Enjoying her life

I finally had the money saved to buy this little guy.  I had a 4 day weekend and on Tuesday, December 4th, 2007 I was going to make the little guy who I named “Skye” mine.  Everybody knew how much I wanted him, that I was diligently saving the money for him and the little relationship I developed with him.  As I went to get the keys to unlock his cage the General Manager, a very nice man unlike his managing counter part, asked me to sit down.  It seemed pretty serious as he had a strange look on his face.  He proceeded to tell me that “Skye” had been sold over the weekend.  As the tears welt up in me I began to cry, I lost my little Sun Conure to the first $699.99 that came through the door.  I taught him how to wave hello, I taught him to hang from my finger and to lay on his back in my hand…he was supposed to be mine!  Now he was not with me, he was with strangers and I would never know if he was ever taken care of the proper way.  The General Manger had tears in his eyes as well and gave me a big hug…although it was a nice gesture, it wouldn’t take away the pain.  He did tell me he had good news though.  He told me of the Operations Manager at another store who was a breeder of exotic birds and had rescued them from time to time.  She had a Sun Conure that needed a home and he had already spoken to her over the weekend about me adopting it.  Well, that wouldn’t be “Skye” but, this little one needed a good home.

I waited a few days and then called the bird lady to inquire about the Sun Conure…which I had already named.  Yup…you guessed it “Skye”.

Helping with the dishes

The conversation somehow went from me adopting a Sun Conure to… “I have a Blue and Gold Macaw that needs a home”.  Ummm…ok…now we’re back to that everlasting “Cockatoo Memory”.  Me being the passive, inexperienced bird person I was, I asked “Isn’t that somewhat bigger than a Sun Conure?”  Yeah well…alot bigger and alot scarier!  So, a week goes by and I decide to go look at the 2 birds…the Sun Conure…and this huge Macaw.  Needless to say, I never got to see the Sun Conure, I found myself driving home with a rescued Blue and Gold Macaw that hated me, didn’t trust anybody, tried to attack me at the aviary and a cage to put together that was bigger than my little rented bedroom.  What in the hell was I thinking??  I knew absolutely nothing about taking care of these birds let alone trying to gain the trust of one that wanted to rip my face off.  Back to the drawing board…time for more research.  Books, internet, friends, bird store owners, sanctuaries and the original bird lady were all helpful.  I took everyone’s opinions and made my own conclusion.  In one week I had this huge bird stepping up without trying to take my arm or my face off…

…Nine months later, Kacey was my best friend…

Kacey & Me

Once I was able to get Kacey out of the cage willfully, we would spend time together watching TV in my room,  hanging out on the porch together or playing “peek-a-boo” on the bed with the covers.  While watching TV together one day, I fell asleep and forgot to put her up in her cage.  An hour later, I woke up to a huge beak wrapped around my nose making kissy noises at me.  Oh my gosh! Please don’t take off my face!…The moment I said that she stopped, flipped herself over on her back, grabbing my hand with her foot and placing it ever so gently in her beak.  The baby noises and kissy noises continued.  I got bold enough and kissed her tummy…Kacey finally accepted me and knew in her heart that I would always love her.

Almost 3 years have passed now and although most of my posting is about Zazu and Chloe, my heart belongs to my one true first.  Kacey is my heart and soul…she came to me when I lost everything in my life including my confidence as a human being.

Angels Of Flight was started for Kacey.  Originally trying to help out the other lost flighted souls that were not wanted and that needed re-homing, AOF branched off and grew into a production company to showcase the wonderful world of exotic birds.  Still working with the rescue portion of the operation, AOF has re-homed 35 birds in the last year.  From the smallest finch to the Mollucan Cockatoo.

I am now over my fear of birds.  They are my life and everything I live for.  My relationships with humans may come and go, but one thing that remains constant in my life is Kacey, Chloe, Zazu and Simba.  They are “The Ambassadors” of Angels Of Flight…but Kacey is the true heart and soul of why Angels Of Flight was started.  People always say it’s great that I rescued her…I correct them…Kacey rescued me.  Kacey has taught me that no matter how bad your life gets there’s always something good waiting around the corner for you.  If you hang in there long enough, life can be an amazing gift.  She is my conviction of the heart.

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