JAMUL, Calif. (KGTV) — SoCal Parrot, a non-profit that cares for the beautiful birds, has taken in more than two dozen critically endangered parrots recently rescued after a smuggler was discovered trying to sneak his eggs onto a plane in Miami.
The man was caught when one of the eggs hatched. While attempting to pass through customs while switching planes, an agent heard the sound of chirping coming from inside the man's bag. Upon further examination, the agent discovered 29 eggs inside a custom-built cooler bag that included a remote to control the bag's temperature.
A few of the eggs never hatched and a few of the chicks died shortly after hatching at a sanctuary in Florida. However, the sanctuary was not in a position to care for the birds long-term, so rescue organizations raised $25,000 to charter a plane to fly the young birds to San Diego.
Most are yellow-naped amazons, a critically-endangered species from Central America with only an estimated 2,000-4,000 left in the wild. Fish and Wildlife experts say around 90% of all eggs are poached by smugglers, seeking to sell the birds for more than $1,000 each on the black market.
“They’re not living out a great life as a pet. They’re wild animals that are dying," SoCal Parrot founder Brooke Durham told ABC 10News. "They deserve a wildlife. They deserve to be out there and we don’t deserve them period.”
Durham says it is currently costing the non-profit around $700 each week on food for the parrots. She also expects to have to build multiple additional aviaries for them. While to her knowledge no birds rescued from smugglers have ever been reintroduced back into their native lands, she hopes this particular flock will be the first.
“It’s the dream and that’s exactly what all we care for. It’s what I wake up in the morning dreaming about. I want to see that more than anything," Durham said.
To contribute to SoCal Parrot, visit their website at socalparrot.org.