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More than 200 birds rescued from sanctuary after riding out Ian

Posted at 5:44 AM, Oct 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-07 05:44:45-04

TAMPA, Fla. — When Will Peratino and Lauren Stepp were told to evacuate Pine Island, they say they simply couldn't imagine leaving behind their birds.

So they caged up all 275 parrots and cockatoos and rode out the storm with them inside their home on stilts.

They run the Malama Manu sanctuary on Pine Island, which lost its roof during Hurricane Ian. Peratino says at its peak, the sanctuary was under six feet of water.

Their house sits on 12-foot stilts, so the animals and everyone were safe after the storm. But getting the birds off the island was the big challenge because the storm wiped out the island's bridge.

The Tampa-based, donor-funded rescue group Project Dynamo heard about the need. On Tuesday they were able to get four boats together and load up all the birds in kennels and get them to try land.

"If we had not captured all the birds and put them in crates and put them 12 feet up, we would have lost all of them," Peratino said.

All the birds were taken inland about four hours north to a different sanctuary where they will be cared for.

Peratino expects they will be there for at least the next six months to a year as they work to repair and rebuild their sanctuary on pine island.