Patricia Sund and Penguin

Great Opportunities: Sometimes you get invited to the party…

This blog has been kicking around for almost five years. Some of it is my thoughts and opinions. Some of it is essays, some is about the Chop Concept, and some of it is about cleaning. A lot of cleaning. But if you’ve been dropping in for a while, you probably know how it began. Back in 2008, I dithered for a few weeks and then jumped headlong with both feet into writing about what I happened to be doing at the time: Working as a Guest Keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Patricia Sund Black Indigo Snake

Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

It was fun. And if you followed any of those posts, you also know that it was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. But the zoo was happy to have an extra set of hands to help out. I learned a lot. Among other stuff, I learned how to hand feed and tag a penguin, handle a snake, and stay the flyin’ hell out of the way when Steve and his Crew are trying to snag some fruit bats for a wellness check. I learned what to do if you get bitten by a snake or a heloderma. Not by experience of course, but step number 4 on the checklist posted everywhere is “Sit Down and Remain Calm.”


Great fun!

I also covered the Midwest Bird Expo, several of the Houston Parrot Festivals, The BEST Parrot Conference, and I went to Best Friends Animal Society twice. I cleaned a lot of bathrooms, scrubbed a lot of walls and shot a lot of video. It was wonderful.


My Introduction to Luke, a Vicktory Dog.

I did an event at Phoenix Landing, and traveled up to Janet Holt Hilton’s house to make a bunch of Chop at a Chop Party I called, “The Charleston Chopettes.”

Copyright J Hilton20120327making chop0022_edited-1

Photo courtesy of  Janet Hilton. Janet knows how to throw a Chop Party!

Each place I went to, they knew I was coming or invited me, as was the case with the Cincinnati Zoo, the Midwest Bird Expo, Phoenix Landing,The Oasis and Best Friends.  I have a ton more places on my list to visit, among them a pigeon adoption and rescue organization and Noah’s Ark Sanctuary in Georgia. I’ve been to The AFA Conference twice, even speaking there last year and I’m returning this summer. I’ve covered Vet visits, shopping trips to various stores, and even fund-raising dinners for the Alex Foundation.

I’ve been doing this for almost five years and writing about it here.  And it has been such a blast! The people I meet, the stuff I learn and am able to pass on to other organizations has been terrific.


Photo courtesy of Best Friends

Best Friends Parrot Garden Manager, Jacque Johnson told me about visiting  Black Hills Parrot Welfare and Education in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. They welcomed her and she took away some wonderful ideas that she was able to use at the Parrot Garden at Best Friends as well as sharing some of her ideas, I’m sure.

Jacque told me, “I’ve visited Black Hills Parrot Welfare and Education twice. Both times I was able to pick up ideas that we could use here at the sanctuary. One thing they do that I thought was brilliant was to use a wipe-board in each room, listing the birds by location, special diet notes, behavior notes, and any pertinent medical information. That is a great way to clue staff and volunteers in about what’s going on with an individual bird. I also liked the way they had a dedicated area set up for education and all the birds were in species specific rooms. Each room had its own supplies available there, to limit cross contamination.

There is so much we can learn from each other. When we don’t network, we are limited by our own thoughts, ideas, and imagination. We don’t know what we don’t know….and it takes seeing it done differently to open our eyes to other possibilities. None of us has a monopoly on good ideas. I am happy to share anything that we do and I hope that other rescues are just as happy to share.” 


At a Phoenix Landing Event with Fellow Blogger, Melissa Kowalski

All of these years, having covered all of these places and attending all of these events, not once has anyone ever said to me or questioned what I was doing. Not once did anyone say to me, “Why are you going there? What’s your motivation? What is behind it? And what are you going to write?”

This reminds me of a day I was covering something at the Zoo, and one of the “Big Kahuna” types came up to me and asked me not to write about it. I told him it was absolutely no problem because I really hadn’t found it of interest. He seemed kind of bothered by the fact that what I had just seen that he found so “delicate” was of no interest to me.

He said, “Well, why don’t you want to write about it?” This, after him expressly telling me I couldn’t.  I replied, “Because it simply isn’t interesting. It was actually rather dry and boring and nobody is going to give a damn about it one way or the other.”

I think I might have heard a small whine…


So naturally, I became puzzled when people began questioning Emily Trimnal’s latest adventure in the works, “The Roaming Parrot.” Here is Emily, truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, off to roam the country and do exactly what I began to do five years ago and I just recently found out that she is essentially being chastised for even thinking about it. Why? What’s the difference?

Emily will be visiting various adoption-based organizations, sanctuaries and bird supply stores spread out all over the country. I’m sure that the planning alone will be an incredible undertaking. And unlike me, she is driving. Oh my God. Driving? I hate to drive.

But through it all, Emily has her mission statement in place and has made it pretty clear what she is about:

483455_450402485025474_497699616_nThe immediate goal and mission of The Roaming Parrot (TRP) is simple and basic. We are trying to learn and document as much as we can about the dire needs facing our Avian Community.   We are not claiming to be an official agency of any sort.  Data collected will be used to aid and facilitate in areas of rescue, sanctuary and re-homing.  Our hope is to unify the community, not create a bigger divide. Information collected will be used to develop further recommendations for unified standards as well as to facilitate and disseminate data, sources, and “best practices”. This is NOT a mission taken lightly. No one associated with this group wants to tear down anyone that looks to help the Avian community. 

Help me understand this here, but I simply fail to see the difference between what I’ve been doing and continue to do, which is write about the Avicultural Community and what Emily is taking on. She is not going where she isn’t invited and people all over the place are welcoming her, wanting her to see the places they have established, built and developed.

The way I’m taking it, The Roaming Parrot Project is simply to develop a sort of Zagat Guide of sorts to the Avicultural world. From what I’ve been able to gather, the information compiled will be items such as, what kind of facility it is: store, adoption facility, or strictly a sanctuary. If it’s an adoption organization, is it brick and mortar? Do they take only one species of bird? What are their hours, contact information and do they allow volunteers?  Is it a 501c3 or privately funded? What are the adoption guidelines? What ideas can we take away from this particular facility?

I think the guide will simply help people make decisions based on facts gathered about the facilities.

Let me put it this way: You learn a lot more by going to a place and actually seeing and experiencing it than just visiting a website. I felt my videos, photos and description of Best Friends for instance, gave you a fairly good feel about the place than just seeing their website did. For instance, you saw photos of Kelly Moore Parsley and Bonny Grafton cleaning and interacting with birds. You got to know the backside from the perspective of a volunteer.


It seems to me that the project is gathering data to help people locate and contact various outlets around the country and compiling them into an interesting and educational format. Information can be a wonderful thing. Especially if it’s good information. I’ll be following the Roaming Parrot to see the places I haven’t been to yet. I’m sure I’ll learn a few things. And to me, I think that’s the entire point.