'Operation Noah's Ark': Hundreds Of Birds Rescued From Island Cut Off By Hurricane Ian

October 26, 2022

A rescue mission dubbed "Operation Noah's Ark" was launched Tuesday to cage and ferry hundreds of birds off Pine Island in Florida after it was hit hard by Hurricane Ian.

parrot rescue mission
The Associated Press

Authorities pleaded with residents of Pine Island to abandon their homes because of damaged roads, including a collapsed bridge that prevented deliveries of food, gas and other life-sustaining supplies.

But Will Peratino and Lauren Stepp did not want to leave and abandon their 275 parrots at the Malama Manu Sanctuary.

"We would not abandon them. I would never leave them. Never," Stepp told The Associated Press. "If they cannot be fed or watered, they will die. And I can't live with that."


The birds have been relying on food donated by wildlife officials since Hurricane Ian hit, but the supply of fruit, peanuts and other edibles would soon be hard to come by because of the downed bridge and the scarcity of gasoline on the island.

parrot rescue mission
The Associated Press

Bryan Stern, the founder and leader of Project Dynamo, said his team has rescued at least six dogs, three cats and before Tuesday's massive rescue.

"Our animal numbers are about to be blown out of the water by 100 cages of parrots," Stern said, before embarking on the rescue mission.

"Will and Laura, who own the sanctuary, their hearts and souls are in the birds. So they're going through their own suffering from the hurricane and having to rebuild their lives. They lost all kinds of stuff. Is the answer to that to lose more?"

parrot rescue mission
The Associated Press

The crew of volunteers was not about to let that happen.

For several hours Tuesday, the volunteers stuck nets and their bare hands into cages to pen the birds in cages.

"To have every bird safe is a huge undertaking," Peratino said. "I mean, it's almost impossible to do. So the kind of help we've gotten has been invaluable."

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