Exotic birds rescued from Dothan puppy mill find forever home at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio

In March we brought you the story of an illegal animal breeding operation in a Dothan Neighborhood where 65 dogs and 16 exotic birds were rescued from deplorable conditions.

The dogs are being auctioned to good homes while the birds were sent to a temporary home in the Wiregrass at the Big Bend Sanctuary in Level Plains where they have been for the past six months, that is until Monday.

Workers from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio heard about the birds and decided to give them a forever home.

"I pulled the tarp back shined my light in there and found sixteen of the biggest macaws that I had ever seen."

William Banks with the Dothan Police Department's Animal Management Remembers very vividly the uncared for conditions of the exoctic birds he helped rescue.

 "No color, feathers all plucked out, very aggresive," said Banks.

Big Bend workers and volunteers worked tirelessly to nurse the birds back to health with support from the community and around the nation.

"We were getting donated supplies from all over in the wiregrass people from all over was sending money donating so that they could have fresh fruits, vegetables," said Melaine Bolivar, Big Bend Zoologist volunteer,

The animal programs department at the Columbus Zoo which travels around the country with Jack Hanna got wind of the birds and decided to take all 16 birds in.

"One of our co-workers used to work for Big Bend Wildlife santuary and so that's how we've kind of gotten in contact with them and we of course wanted to help out.," said Emily Yunker, Columbus Zoo worker.

All sixteen birds are endangered with one of them being a Blue Throat Macaw which is highly endangered, only about three hundred birds of the species still left.

While the birds will not be in a wild breeding situation that they were recovered from, but there are hopes of getting the offspring of the birds back into their habitat.

"There is going to be a pair that will be bred due to they're highly endangered in the wild and those babies will be introduced back into the wild," said Bolivar.

The Columbus Zoo workers have a long trip back with the birds but are eager to get them home so they can continue providing top care to them.

"We're going to get these birds back as quick as we can back to the zoo we want to minimize the stress so we're going to get them in the crates that we have set up as quick as possible, make sure they have food and water and then get on the road," said Yunker.

The trip to the Columbus Zoo from Big Bend is about a 12 hour drive.

Upon arrival the birds will be fully examined and seen by the zoo's veterinarians.

The birds will live to be about 80 or 90 years old and will become ambassadors of their species.


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