After my traumatic event with Marley it left me with so many questions. Why did something like this affect me in the way that it did? I couldn’t fathom how an animal I owned for 24 hours had me sobbing like a small child. Throughout our 35 day ordeal I could barely eat, I found myself with anxiety, and depression. I couldn’t explain this to myself let alone to others who were curious why I was so severely depressed from my parrot being ill. I realized from the moment I thought I was going to lose him, a bond was made. Similar to the bond a mother would feel to her child. Although he had only been in my life for such a short time that didn’t mean that I loved him any less. It was quite the contrary I loved him immensely. I knew I would do whatever it took of me to save his life, and through our process I learned so much. The event tested me in ways I hadn’t been tested before. It made me restore my faith; not only in god, but human kind itself. I had lost much of my faith in human kind since living in Mexico. Life here is hard, and I mean really hard. The government doesn’t help its people, it hurts them in a sense. There are no laws for their children to be in school, let alone animal rights.
Upon first moving here I found myself infuriated with the situation, dogs all over the streets, horses pulling wagons, parrots shoved into small cages fed on nothing but sunflower seed and the occasional fruit treat. I asked 100s of questions, but the truth is Mexico takes the easy way out. That isn’t the fault of the people. It’s the fault of the politicians who continue to steal money from their own people. Most laws are rarely enforced, and even when being enforced bribery and treachery usually prevail. I’m not making excuses for them, but to understand the situation of Marley’s Mission you have to really understand the environment in which we live.
Shortly after the ordeal with Marley I found myself fascinated with everything parrot related. I would be online for hours at night trying to understand there complexity. I wanted to make sure I provided Marley with an optimal diet since pellets aren’t sold in Mexico. I went for the raw whole food diet. Which I knew I would be able to provide easily. Fruits and vegetables are easy to come by here, and since Amazons are actually native to the state we live in we have a large variety of tropical completely organic fruits and veggies. Upon educating myself I found myself educating others, and not because they asked to be educated. I kept finding myself in situations where I felt the need to educate. Sometimes it would be on my nightly walk with my children. I would find a lone parrot in a cage on someone’s porch talking or singing to himself. Usually my nosiness would get the best of me, and I would find myself on their porch talking to their parrot, followed by someone usually staring at me like I had lost my mind. I would excuse myself and say Oh, you have such a lovely parrot! What is his name? After getting to talking with them for a few minutes I would find myself bringing up nutritional needs of parrots. Most people I find are open to advice or opinions, it’s all about the way you deliver the message. I take the kind, sweet approach, followed by the cute staring eyes of my children (who are parrot enthusiasts as well) we’ve had a 100% success rate so far. This happens more often than I think I’d like to admit. Where I find myself talking to a stranger about their parrot. It seemed like since my ordeal with Marley I found parrots everywhere, and people who just needed a little education. Most of these people had owned their parrots for 20+ years and loved them, they just didn’t know. Also I always keep in mind some people earn minimum wage here. Which is $5.75 a day. Yes, a DAY! Imagine having to feed yourself and your family off of that. That’s why I say life here is hard, and it’s not that people don’t want to provide the best. It’s that sometimes that just isn’t possible.
About 2 weeks after Marley was completely out of the clear I wanted to take my children out. They had been trapped in the house with me the entire month Marley was sick. My oldest was insistent he wanted to go to the local Zoo about 15 miles outside of the city, and I thought it was a wonderful idea for us to get out and have fun. So we packed up our car, and headed to the Zoo. Once inside the Zoo the very first area you arrive in is a reptile house, and passing through the reptile house is the first aviary in the Zoo. Where there is an Eclectus, some Amazons, a bonded pair of Military Macaws, and a few other species. It was evident to me pretty quickly that the birds were all on an improper diet of sunflower seeds, they were offered fruit but it was just a mixture of papaya, and tomato, and everyone looked pretty over weight. We glanced around admiring the birds, while investigating their conditions and continued on with our day. While walking throughout the Zoo I could hear the distinct call of the Macaw over the enclosures. Sure enough they had a wonderful enclosure full of about 8 Military Macaws.(Military Macaws are actually native to the state as well) I noticed they had turtles in their cage, and were also pretty over weight. They had perches and a water supply, but it had room for improvement. They were also on the same diet as the birds in aviary 1. I decided I would sneak some of my kids’ fruit I had brought through the fence and observed them immediately so excited over a piece of apple, I almost cried.
My kids were hungry and restless at this point in the day and we decided to make our way to the cafeteria. Low and behold it was also filled with Parrots. All different kinds, Red Fronted, Red lored, an African grey, a beautiful Macaw. I didn’t even want to sit down to eat lunch, so while my family was eating I was investigating. Of course they also were on the same diet as everyone else, and were all overweight as well, some had plastic perches and very overgrown nails. Other enclosures were dirty or dark and kind of depressing. Then there was the Macaw with yellow feathers and a bad beak. I stood there for a moment trying to take it all in. It was a lot to process after my ordeal with Marley and it hurt my heart. When I got home that night I couldn’t stop thinking about it, my mind was working overtime. How? How do I fix this problem? What can I do to help? I slept on it, and the next day decided I would write to the Zoo’s Facebook page to see if maybe they would meet with me to discuss the diet that the birds were on. After about 48 hours I was shocked to see I had a message in my inbox from them telling me they would love to meet with me to give them a call. So I called, and agreed to meet with her the following day.
The next day I met with the Zookeeper of the Zoo. She seemed open to change as we walked throughout the Zoo discussing the different species and some of their background. I was specifically curious about the male Eclectus who I found out had lost his mate 6 months prior and had been plucking since then. We discussed different things, I was trying to cover all grounds without being overbearing. I wanted her to understand I wasn’t there to judge her I just wanted to lend a helping hand. We discussed diets and how we needed to cut out sunflower, and find an inexpensive way to keep the birds on a whole food diet. We discussed moving the turtles and cleaning the Macaw cages. We discussed how birds need stimulation, and baths on a regular basis. I offered to come in and help whenever I could, I wanted to make sure they were indeed going to change their diet, and give them the things they need. I left the Zoo that day feeling unsure, questioning things, praying they would listen to me. I had agreed I would be back on Saturday to spend time with the Eclectus and I wanted to offer bath water or a fresh mist to everybody, and I also wanted them to try my chop. I work really hard to make Marley’s chop as fabulous as I can and a part of me just wanted to see the happiness in them just being on a proper diet. Saturday rolled around and off I was with my huge thing of chop, and a mister. I was beyond ecstatic when I arrived to see that they all had chop! A morning chop of all kinds of different fruits, and some green beans had also been placed on a plate next to them. I cried. I cried those happy tears when you think maybe just maybe you got through to someone and changed their lives. That was the cry, a glorious cry. I pulled myself together and went on with my day. My heart was touched that day in more ways than one. I saw the pure joy in their eyes of a fresh water mist. I saw an amazon eat pomegranate for the first time and she squealed with excitement, I talked to a lonely Eclectus for 45 minutes about anything I could in hopes he would feel less lonely. I look forward to seeing them every Saturday.
It’s one of the best parts of my week, because I know that, that 1 day I make a difference in their live.