The Old Man Nobody Wants
I’ve always loved animals. My love for birds started when I was given my first bird as a child. It was a grey female cockatiel, given to me by Anila (a nun) named Carmen in America. Since then I have had more pets, including birds, dog, fishes…
I usually go and liberate birds…. I like to liberate fishes and Kechara Care now does monthly animal liberations. I encourage animal liberation for a variety of reasons – to give the animals some blessings by blowing the Medicine Buddha mantra on them, and to give them a chance of freedom. Another reason is to create the causes for our Kechara Animal Sanctuary (KAS) which we urgently need to help abandoned, abused and injured animals. So just a few days ago, I decided to adopt more birds. I just like animas free, happy, fed and unhurt.
What inspires me to do this? During Buddha’s time, there was a bird that flew over Lord Buddha and his droppings fell on Buddha’s robe. This create the causes, hundreds of years later, for this bird to become a scholar of Buddhism. All because he had made a connection with the Buddha. That is why I had the idea of placing Buddha images inside bird cages and aviaries so that the birds can make a connection and be blessed by Buddha.
If we do not start taking care of more birds now, how are we going to take care of more animals in future? Everything we do has to start somewhere small first. Some people ask why I buy animals from shops, and whether that just encourages those involved in the live animal trade to continue doing what they do. What I say is, the amount we buy is insignificant. And even if we stop, it will not stop people from catching the birds and selling them. But, by us buying the birds from them and letting them know we are going release them and/or take care of them, we will be an example of being kind to animals.
When I buy birds, or any other animal, I do not see them as pets, they are not for my pleasure or entertainment. Instead I try to give them the best food, environment and care that I can provide. I plant seeds in their mindstream by reciting mantras and blowing on them. That is the best I can do for them while they are in the animal realm.
In any case, while I was shopping for some birds I noticed a slow and shy African Grey. The shop had two African Greys, the younger was friendly energetic and cute and would be purchased super fast. But the older African Grey has been in the shop for FOUR YEARS. He is 45 years old and nobody wants him. The African Grey species can live up to 65 years old. The previous owner left the bird in the shop on consignment as he was having issues with his grandson bullying the bird. Later, his wife made him choose between the bird or his grandson and of course, he had to choose his grandson. However, the previous owner still drops by very often to visit the bird after giving him away. He cares a lot about him as he had the bird for 30 years. The bird was isolated in a small cage, all alone in the shop because the other birds often bully him due to his age. He just eats and sleeps because he is old…poor old thing. It broke my heart. I had to adopt him… and he arrived at the ladrang a few days ago. We will recite mantras to him, give him good food, fresh outdoor air and new friends….Maybe he will be happy again. I like the animals that no one else wants. I know how it is to be not wanted or cared about because of something you cannot help…..As Lady Gaga sings, I was born this way…..I know how it is not to be wanted or loved for something you cannot change…well Aki will be loved, cared for and taken care of. He will be outside in a large, gree, spacious aviary…He will be fed nice food and fresh fruits too….May Aki never suffer again…or abandoned…
Nobody wanted Aki and he lanquished for four years in a pet shop waiting for a new owner…it broke my heart on the spot. I said to myself immediately, I want you. I want you and I will take care of you. You will have fresh air, friends, greens and nice environment. I want you to come home with me Aki….As I wiped the tear from my eye…I arranged for his transport to his new home…
I found out his name is Aki but we have nicknamed him ‘Old Man’. He has been placed in a new and bigger cage in the Ladrang’s aviary, which is solely for him alone. We will observe him and see if he is being bullied by other birds and how he is adapting to his new environment. So far so good, no complaints.
I’ve also asked the Ladrang to create a manual on how to care for Aki and this can also be applied to all birds in the aviary. I want everyone to learn how to care for them. Animals cannot speak for themselves or tell us what is wrong with them. They are defenseless and it is our responsibility to ensure their every need is well taken care off and that they are happy and well…
45 year old African Grey arrives in Tsem Ladrang…this is the cage he arrived in..he will be transferred to a much larger place so he can stretch and have new friends, air and greens…
Isn’t Aki very cute hehe…
Aki eats very slowly and gently. He will be well taken care of in the Ladrang with lots of love…
May the Buddha bless him and all animals that see His image… The aviary in Tsem Ladrang has Medicine Buddha or White Tara statues in it to plant seeds in the birds’ minds so that they will take a good rebirth and come across the Dharma in future.
CARING FOR AKI (AFRICAN GREY) & OTHER BIRDS
1. Cage/Bird House Position:
Ensure Aki’s house is placed half in an area where there is sunlight and half sheltered from it. This is so that he can go towards the sun when he feels cold and go back in the shade when he feels too hot. The cage should also not be too near the areas where rain could easily splash in and get him wet.
2. During the rainy season, ensure that there are lights or heaters in the aviary to keep the birds warm.
3. Food/Fruits that Aki likes:
– Sunflower seeds
Always ensure fresh food and water are given daily. Containers must be washed and green algae build up should be scrubbed off. Bird feces on perches must also be scrubbed/washed away to prevent of any skin problems or ailments for the birds. In the wild it is okay because the rain washes the feces away but it different in an aviary.
4. Transferring Aki to another cage:-
– Place the cage you wish to transfer him to beside the one he is in. Open both cage doors, placing them facing each other so that there are NO GAPS between the two cages. Slowly coax him to cross over to the other side. Talk quietly to him and encourage him with hand gestures, tapping on the cage he is in gently to persuade him to go into the other cage you want him in. Never shout or make sudden loud noises or hit the cage hard!
- If this fails then use a towel to gently wrap him up and quickly transfer him to the new cage.
- If this fails, then you may try to catch him by slowly encouraging him on to your hands. Make sure you always have your hand in the shape of a fist when approaching him as he can bite your fingers off! This should be done by Bird experts/Justin/BK only.
5. Adapting to the new environment (big aviary):
– Observe Aki for 2-3 weeks to see how he is adapting and reacting to his new environment.
- Reactions we should look out for:
- Is he shying away?
- Is he acting nervous, is his heart beating very fast, is he moving about vigorously?
- Is he making fearful screaming noises?
- Is he being aggressive, wanting to attack when other birds come near him OR is he comfortable, staying still, moving around happily and making friends?
- If he is comfortable and showing signs of wanting to play/come out from his cage after 2-3 weeks of observation, then we can open his cage door and observe another 2-3 weeks to see if he comes out to explore. Ensure food and water are placed inside the cage and outside near his cage as well so that it is easily accessible. Always leave his cage door open.
- If he is comfortable in the big aviary and has no problem finding food, is eating well and getting along with other birds, then it is a good sign which means he is ready to be in the aviary. However, we should still leave his cage in the aviary and the cage door open, for at least 3 weeks. It is his home and security for whenever he feels like returning home. We can remove Aki’s cage only if he does not go back to it at all.
- Always observe birds in their own cage first for 2-3 weeks before introducing/releasing them in a new aviary/environment.
6. Introducing an African Grey to Cockatoos is not a problem according to our bird expert. They usually get along.
7. When it is a very hot day and we see birds breathing with their mouths open, we should shower water lightly on their backs avoiding their nose area. We must be very careful to ensure that water does not get into their noses as this may cause them to get a chill or fall sick. Alternatively a bird bath can be placed in aviary and must be washed daily and fresh water replenished.