Jan 232010

The World Parrot Refuge was very proud to present a unique conference in Parksville, BC, which helped to educate the attendees about conservation and the illegal parrot trade. A number of amazing parrot experts joined us from Canada, the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom, all of whom presented lectures as part of our goal to educate the public about what is being done to protect the parrots of the world.

Over the next week or so, we will have photos posted and a brief of the lectures to share with you.

Please click below to read more about the fascinating speakers who presented at the conference.


Rosemary Low, World-reknowned parrot expert

Rosemary Low is considered one of the world’s foremost parrot experts, having devoted most of her life to studying and advocating for these magnificent creatures. A co-founder of the World Parrot Trust in 1989, and editor of the Society’s magazine, “PsittaScene” until 2004, Rosemary spends her time promoting and assisting with parrot conservation projects. She is passionate about improving the lives of captive birds. Rosemary spent nearly eight years in the Canary Islands as curator of two of the world’s largest parrot collections, Loro Parque in Tenerife and Palmitos Park in Gran Canaria. She has traveled widely, speaking at avicultural symposiums on four continents and observing parrots in the wild in more than 30 countries. Rosemary has published hundreds of articles and more than 20 books on parrots, on subjects ranging from their care and breeding to the issues of trade and conservation. Her latest book, “Go West for Parrots – a South American Odyssey, chronicles her journeys to the neotropics over three decades, beginning in 1975. Rosemary will be available to autograph her new book at the Making a Difference Conference.


Stewart Metz, Director, Indonesian Parrot Project

A graduate of Yale Medical School, Dr Stewart Metz has served as Professor of Medicine at two major universities, and was the Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Head of the Diabetes Program, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2001, Dr Metz left behind a promising career to dedicate his life to parrots, parrot conservation and the welfare of companion parrots. As Director of the Indonesian Parrot project, Stewart promotes alternative forms of sustainable income, including eco-tourism, for local villagers, who in turn protect local birds from trapping. He also uses his biomedical background to enhance both the Medical Initiative of the Seram (Indonesia) Program, as well as the disease and laboratory testing aspects of the project’s Wild Parrot Re-Release program. Dr Metz also serves as a conservation consultant for Project Bird Watch, an organization dedicated to saving the Moluccan cockatoo in its native Indonesian habitat. Promoting education and the most humane care possible for companion parrots continue to be important issues for a man who believes that no matter how much we do for our companion parrots, we can never come close to the life they have in the wild.


Sam Williams, PhD, Co-Founder of ParrotWatch.org

Sam Williams, University of Sheffield, has spent the past several years studying the endangered Yellow-shouldered Amazon on the Caribbean Island of Bonaire. His fieldwork is designed to develop optimal conservation management strategies. Sam’s research involves monitoring mortality, particularly during the reproductive cycle, and investigating parrot requirements through habitat assessment and bird surveys. After completing his studies in Ecology at the University of Stirling in 2001, Williams traveled to Brazil, where he assisted in identifying active nests of the critically endangered Lear’s Macaw. He has a long association with the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, where he worked with the rare Echo parakeet. In association with a local non-governmental group (Salba Nos Lora), Sam and his colleagues promote community-based conservation efforts to generate awareness of, and safeguard the future for, the Yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot. This involves a variety of approaches from coordinating educational campaigns to planting fruit trees and conducting annual parrot population counts. You can follow the work of Sam and his team at parrotwatch.org, where visitors can observe inside wild parrot nests.


Steve Milpacher, Director of Business Development, World Parrot Trust

As Director of Business Development, Steve Milpacher manages the World Parrot Trust’s website, establishes business partnerships, and provides general support for marketing, fundraising, and business efforts. Steve attended Okanagan College (now UBC Okanagan), taking courses in the biological sciences and later completed a certificate in Endangered Species Management with Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (now Durrell Preservation Trust) at Jersey, UK. Steve’s business credentials include working in the education industry, first as an education and nature products retailer, and later in a variety of business, marketing, and web development roles for an education software company. He has spoken at numerous clubs, meetings and conferences and has had articles published in Bird Talk, Parrots, Parrot Society of Australia and PsittaScene magazines. Steve has a keen interest in photography, and recently had the opportunity to fulfill a dream to travel to Mexico and photograph wild Thick-billed and Maroon-fronted Parrots.


Ann Brooks, President, Phoenix Landing, North Carolina

President and co-founder of Phoenix Landing, Ann Brooks’ original plan was to build a free-flight facility where parrots could enjoy long and healthy lives, inspired by her macaw Phoenix who should live decades longer than she will. However, reflecting on the extensive number of birds that need new homes through no fault of their own, Ann realized that no sanctuary could be large enough.  Established in 2000 and active in several east coast states, Phoenix Landing has developed into an extensive network of volunteers to facilitate the foster and adoption for parrots, and hosts a robust education program about parrot care to improve the quality-of-life for parrots in captivity.  The organization also seeks to protect wild parrots by supporting a variety of research, conservation and eco-tourism projects.  A passionate advocate, Ann knows that parrots can be victims of indigenous trapping and unscrupulous sellers more interested in making a dollar than in preparing bird and human alike for a long and complicated life together.  However, and just as importantly, many parrots in loving and capable homes will need a new one simply because they live a long time, and parrots require more care than many people are able to provide long-term.  Her goal is to insure that the Phoenix Landing Foundation will be sustainable for decades to come, so that parrots like her Phoenix will always have a safe place to land.  Phoenix Landing recently opened it’s first adoption and education center in Alexander, NC, where Ann hopes to develop several aspects of “The Landing” to include a a national adoption and education facility, conference center, free-flight refuge, and a destination point for those who love parrots.


Juan Carlos Cantu Guzman, Director of Programs, Defenders of Wildlife, Mexico Office

A law school graduate, Juan Carlos also studied biology at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. He joined Defenders of Wildlife in 2002, bringing his expertise in Mexican environmental politics and policy, as well as his extensive knowledge of sea turtle conservation, wildlife trade and parrot conservation. He directs and implements all programs of the Mexico office of Defenders of Wildlife. Juan Carlos is also a co-founder of the non-governmental organization Teyeliz, AC, a non-profit conservation organization working towards eliminating the illegal trafficking of parrots in Mexico. In 2007, Juan Carlos published a landmark report on the illegal parrot trade and its effects on Mexico’s 22 parrot species that was later used by the Mexican Congress to ban all trade in parrots. His efforts helped to add many endangered species of parrots, including the yellow-crested cockatoo and the blue-headed macaw, to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Juan Carlos has been fighting the illegal parrot trade for more than ten years, and is widely considered Mexico’s foremost expert in the field.


Maria Elena Sanchez Saldana, President, Teyeliz, AC

One of the co-authors (along with Juan Carlos Cantu Guzman) of a landmark 2007 report on the illegal Mexican parrot trade, Maria Elena is a long-time supporter of species conservation in Mexico. The “Illegal Parrot Trade in Mexico: A Comprehensive Assessment” provided crucial scientific data enabling the Mexican government in 2008 to legislate a ban in all trade in parrots. A biologist, Maria Elena is co-founder (in 1995) and president of Teyeliz, AC, a non-governmental organization committed to conservation of Mexican biodiversity, and a key player in the battle against the illegal parrot trade. Maria Elena worked at PROFEPA (Environmental General Attorney Office), where she initiated the CITES program of inspection at seaports and airports in Mexico. She has been a member of the official Mexican delegation at several CITES meetings. Maria Elena is also the Coordinator of the Regional Bureau of Central and South America and the Caribbean of the Species Survival Network. Maria Elena believes that the key to protecting future generations of parrots lies in changing attitudes – “if wild parrots are to survive, then people must stop buying them.”


Wendy Huntbatch, President, World Parrot Refuge

Founder of the World Parrot Refuge, located in Coombs, British Columbia, Wendy Huntbatch is a vocal and passionate advocate for all parrots. An ever-growing surplus of unwanted pet parrots compelled Wendy to establish the “For the Love Of Parrots Refuge Society” in 1993, which operates the World Parrot Refuge, providing a “home for life” for previously owned parrots. Wendy, originally from England, is also Vice-president, International Relations, of Phoenix Landing, North Carolina, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for both captive and wild parrots. In 2004, Wendy’s commitment to homeless parrots led her to spend her life savings purchasing 20 acres of land to build the present world-class facility. From humble beginnings, the Refuge now hosts over 700 parrots, who enjoy free-flight compounds, a hospital unit and special care unit for permanently disabled birds. Providing a voice for Canada’s homeless parrots, Wendy lobbies government and corporations alike, tirelessly fundraising on behalf of the forgotten. She also spends countless hours speaking on the plight of captive parrots, hoping to educate the next generation about the unsuitability of parrots as pets.

  3 Responses to “The Making A Difference Conference 2010”

  1. It would be nice to know who will be speaking on which day to help us determine which day to attend – unfortunately some of us cannot attend the whole conference.

    I would like to try for one day.

    Another comment – I am willing to donate some pottery pieces with parrots painted on them (I made them) for the auction. If I can’t make it to the conference, someone will need to pick them up from Victoria


  2. Hi Lori,

    Thank you for your interest in the conference! Clicking “read more” will take you to the full post about it. At the bottom of the post is a list of the speakers on each day and their topics. This will bring you to the full post with detailed information: http://worldparrotrefuge.org/wpr.php/making-a-difference-conference

    Thank you so much for your offer of your pottery for the auction; I will email Wendy and let her know.


  3. Greetings Wendy, Marie and I met you on Wednesday,May 19th and knew instantly that you are the lady for the job.
    We left 8 of our beloved parrots with you.
    Trusting that you would take them for the rest of their lives.
    You have one tough job Wendy and I do not envy you.
    The birds are beautiful but did not ask to ber placed in the situation that they are where they have to be adopted out, HOW VERY SAD.
    I love my birds but I have come to realize that this is not the life for these wonderful, beautiful birds.
    They belong in their natural enviroment.
    If I can do anything Wendy, Anything to help you, be it write to world leaders etc. please let me know.
    I am not a rich person but Maie and I are going to make regular contributions to your facility.
    I admire you so much and I do lok forward to the day that I can visit you and see the beautiful birds I was able to place with you and many more of Gods creatures.
    I will e mail you next week to see how Mumbles and Gang are doing.
    God Bless You Wendy, thank you for being there for us.

    Much Love and Very best wishes and also Prayers for your Flock,

    Malcolm Stancer and Marie,

    God Be With You

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