Bird adoption, sanctuary, rescue, and care education services for parrots and other captive exotic 'pet' birds. Based in Minneapolis - St. Paul (Twin Cities) area of Minnesota and serving Midwest.



P.O. Box 821  Stillwater, MN  55082  

Phone: (651) 275-0568  Fax: (651) 275-0457  


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Home > News & Events > Press Releases > Angel in Our Midst: Twin Cities Bird Shelter Cockatoo Becomes Animal Planet Pet Story Ambassador

Angel - Umbrella Cockatoo (Photo © 2002 Tina McCormick)Angel in Our Midst: Twin Cities Bird Shelter Cockatoo Becomes Animal Planet Pet Story Ambassador


July 3, 2003

St. Louis Park, MN – July 3, 2003 – Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services (MAARS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit captive bird adoption, sanctuary, and education organization based in the Twin Cities and run by volunteers. Angel, a displaced Umbrella Cockatoo from MAARS, will make her television debut next week on Animal Planet's Pet Story. Along with Moluccan Cockatoos, Roamer and Brandy, Angel will bring the growing crisis of captive parrot displacement and adoption to millions of Animal Planet viewers. The "Angel" episode premieres on Tuesday, July 8, at 1:30 p.m. and will be repeated periodically throughout the season.

Angel's story is sad, and unfortunately, not unusual. Six years ago the upper portion of her beak, or maxilla, was ripped off by an aggressive mate while in a breeding situation. She was surrendered to MAARS last year when her care needs and medical expenses became too overwhelming for her previous caretakers. While extreme mate aggression does not occur in the wild, it is not uncommon in captivity—especially among the large cockatoos like Umbrellas and Moluccans, which are native to Indonesia and are commonly bred in captivity in the United States for the exotic pet trade.

Aggression toward people and other animals, time-consuming care demands, and expensive veterinary needs are just a few of the many reasons people give up their "pet" parrots after only a few years. Other normal bird behaviors, such as screaming, chewing, and messiness, in addition to common human lifestyle changes like the birth of a baby, a move, marriage, divorce, job change, illness, or death, can quickly turn a long-lived, demanding animal like a parrot into an overwhelming burden.

The demand for and availability of exotic, wild "pets" like parrots through private breeders, pet stores, and warehouse pet superstores boomed in the 1990s. Rescue and adoption organizations such as MAARS are now being formed and stretched to accommodate a growing number of birds displaced due to normal wild behaviors, "captive-raised syndrome," and human lifestyle changes. Many experts are reassessing the suitability of parrots—in particular, macaws and cockatoos like Angel, Roamer, and Brandy—for life in captivity because of the myriad of physical and psychological problems that are becoming more apparent as these birds are increasingly displaced. Many of these intelligent, highly social parrots simply do not adapt to life in captivity and instead endure miserable lives behind bars, suffering from mental illness and self-mutilation or other maladaptive behaviors.

Angel - Umbrella Cockatoo (Photo © 2003 Tina McCormick)Unlike those of many parrots, Angel's story has a happy ending. Through fundraising and a donation of time and materials by a generous Minneapolis prosthodontist, Dr. Kenneth Meyer, Angel now has a prosthetic maxilla. And Angel, Brandy, and Roamer all have new homes, screened and approved by the Director of Placement, Karen Sabat. "It is very important that we find good, long-term, qualified homes for each bird. That is why every adoption application is taken seriously," says Sabat. "Every potential adopter must fill out an application form, have a phone interview, meet the birds, go through a home visit, and be approved by the Board of Directors."

"It is very exciting when MAARS finds an adopter with the experience, time, money, and energy required to commit to a parrot—especially a large, long-lived, extremely challenging bird like an Umbrella or Moluccan Cockatoo," adds Tina McCormick, MAARS Director of Operations. For the three cockatoos who are adopted on the "Angel" episode of Pet Story, fifteen more await placement or are in permanent sanctuary at MAARS' St. Louis Park facility, The Landing. Across the country, thousands more birds need new homes each year, and the number is growing.

According to MAARS co-founder and Executive Director/CEO, Eileen McCarthy, "There are no-kill facilities like MAARS being formed all over the country, and it is very hard for all of us to keep up with the growing population of displaced birds. There is a huge 'homelessness' issue in the bird world. An increasing number of parrots are entering shelter and rescue organizations because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and facilities like ours simply cannot handle the volume."

When asked what people can do to help alleviate this crisis, McCarthy responded, "First and foremost, people need to do a lot of research before taking on the responsibility of caring for a parrot. And if they do decide they are ready to take on that responsibility, they should contact MAARS or another bird rescue organization to adopt rather than buy from a breeder or store. There are thousands of wonderful birds awaiting adoption across the country." Bird adoption groups also desperately need volunteers and funding. States McCarthy, "If you love parrots, but don't feel a bird would fit into your lifestyle, you can still volunteer to care for birds, fundraise, or perform educational or administrative tasks. Grants and other generous financial donations will be critical if organizations like MAARS are to continue to take in and find new homes for the growing number of displaced birds like Angel, Roamer, and Brandy."

If you would like more information about MAARS, parrot adoption, volunteering, making a donation, the "Angel" episode of Animal Planet's Pet Story, or the issues facing captive parrots, please contact:

Eileen McCarthy, Executive Director/CEO

Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services (MAARS)

P.O. Box 821

Stillwater, MN 55082

Phone: (651) 275-0568

Fax: (651) 275-0457




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