New Mexico's Pet Resource WINTER 2004



by Suzanne Brannan

When we consider adopting a dog or cat, we need to realize this will be a commitment of perhaps 8-15 years. Our lifestyles will more than likely change during that time: marriages, divorces, children, retirement, and moves from city to country, apartments to houses. Hopefully, these changes will always include our pets. But what happens when your pet requires constant care and attention, and has a life expectancy of 20-80 years? Such is the case with many species of exotic parrots. Often during their lifespan, these birds will be abandoned by the their families, the only flock the birds had ever known. These birds may be shuffled around between friends and family, or sold to strangers. This often leads to emotional and physical abuse from the bird’s owners, resulting in many birds developing a fear of humans and behavioral problems that makes them un-adoptable.

The founders of The Oasis Sanctuary in Cascabel, Arizona realized the need for a rescue/ retirement /rehabilitation facility for parrots and related birds. They specialize in CITES I and II endangered birds (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). These lucky birds are allowed to live out their natural lives in a loving and stable environment. The birds are never bred, sold or offered for adoption. Besides providing a safe haven for parrots in captivity, The Oasis’ desire is to educate the public and actively work to protect wild populations from commercial exploitation. The Oasis is the only exotic bird sanctuary to have duel accreditation from The American Sanctuary Association and The Association of Sanctuaries.

The Oasis is home to nearly 400 birds, mostly Psittacines (parrot-type birds). The residents range from birds with special needs who may be physically handicapped or have been emotionally abused, to well adjusted happy birds. Many of the special needs birds require personalized feeding or living situations. Some have been retired from breeders or had been imported for commercial purposes. The Oasis accepts birds that other adoption/rehabilitation programs have determined are not suited for a private home. They fare much better in a sanctuary environment with the company of like species. A few have come from loving homes but unfortunately have out-lived their guardians. If a bird has been willed or a request is made by family members, The Oasis has a wonderful policy of accepting birds whose owners have passed away or been moved to nursing homes. This policy reduces the number of birds being bounced from home to home by providing proper care and a stable life with other birds.

Located on 71 bucolic acres in southeastern Arizona, healthy and able-bodied birds live year-round outdoors in their own flock. A 21-acre non-producing pecan orchard provides shade during the summer, while allowing sunlight during the winter months. For birds with special needs or those requiring more interaction with humans, there is a 1300 square foot bird building. The Oasis has been busy erecting a first of its kind free-flight aviary. This prototype is 20 x 40 feet and nearly 12 feet in height. The Aviary was completed October of 2003 and is now home to approximately 100 Cockatiels, Budgies and Grass-keets. A double wired enclosure has been added for 25-30 Lovebirds. Currently funds are being raised for a 40 x 100 foot zoo quality enclosure for male cockatiels. In February of 2003, during an outbreak of Exotic Newcastle’s Disease, The Oasis felt it necessary to put its facility under a voluntary quarantine in order to protect the lives of it’s 400 residents. Happily on September 22, 2003 they were able to reopen their doors to birds awaiting lifetime placement. Visitors are welcome by appointment (520) 212-4737.

The Oasis works with other rehabilitation and adoption groups in a network of rescue groups that has been formed to place as many birds as possible in safe homes, adoption programs and permanent sanctuaries. The Avian Rescue Network (ARN) is made up of accredited non-profits, unincorporated rescues, and interested individuals assisting with foster care, transport and a variety of tasks needed for rescues or confiscations. None of the birds rescued ever go into breeding situations. The ARN feels overpopulation problems make rescue or confiscations necessary. It would be unethical to use rescue birds for breeding since it would perpetuate an endless cycle of homelessness, abuse or euthanasia. The network exists to provide a safety net for these beautiful birds. Any one interested in volunteering or sharing information can contact the ARN at

The Oasis Sanctuary is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is solely funded through donations. A great way to involve and educate children is with personal sponsorship. In return for your donation you will receive a photo and story of your sponsored bird, along with periodic updates and photos. Pictures of the sponsored birds and current residents are posted on their website along with the names of sponsors. With its permanent sanctuary, providing natural (free-flight) habitats for these beautiful birds. The Oasis is truly working toward its goal to ensure that every captive parrot has a safe and loving home.

Suzanne Brannan is a realtor by trade and a greyhound lover by inclination who is the guardian of six handsome greyhounds rescued from racetracks.

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