But the couple couldn’t leave without their lemurs and flock of birds — 275 parrots, which include a number of the world’s rarest.


So a rescue assignment — dubbed “Operation Noah’s Ark” — was released Tuesday to seize, cage and ferry the birds off the island, as a situation to steer Peratino and Stepp to go away the island.

“We might no longer abandon them. I would in no way go away them. Never,” stated Stepp, as volunteers labored on gathering the flock from dozens of coops on the Malama Manu Sanctuary. “If they cannot be fed or watered, they’ll die. And I can’t stay with that.” “Malama” is the Hawaiian word for guard, “manu” method fowl.

The birds have been relying on meals donated by natural world officials on the grounds that Hurricane Ian hit, however the supply of fruit, peanuts and different edibles would soon be difficult to come through because of the downed bridge and the shortage of gasoline at the island.

Hurricane Ian battered Southwest Florida per week in the past with one hundred fifty mph gusts, making a few roads impassable and islands inaccessible. Wind-driven rains and ocean surges added risky flooding.

In the hours earlier than the hurricane, the sanctuary owners herded their flock of birds and packed them into their domestic to guard them from the ferocity of the elements.

“You don’t know what we’ve been via right here. We had four feet of water in the house, damned-near drowned,” Peratino stated, earlier than succumbing to tears.

“To have each fowl safe is a huge challenge,” Peratino said. “I suggest, it’s nearly not possible to do. So the form of assist we’ve gotten has been priceless.”

Many of the birds have been rescued from houses that would not care for them. Some are used for breeding rare species.

While the focal point of many search and rescue missions has been on human life, there have also been puppy rescues.

Bryan Stern, the founder and chief of Project Dynamo, which assembled 4 boats for the venture, said his group has rescued at the least six puppies, three cats and, before Tuesday’s massive rescue, three birds.

“Our animal numbers are about to be blown out of the water by using a hundred cages of parrots,” Stern stated, before embarking on the rescue task.

“It’s been nuts,” stated James Judge, who owns the boat “Slice of Life,” which led the small flotilla of rescue boats.

“Will and Laura, who very own the sanctuary, their hearts and souls are in the birds. So they’re going via their very own laid low with the hurricane,” Stern stated, “and having to rebuild their lives. They lost all forms of stuff. Is the answer to that to lose more?”

— HuffPost (@HuffPost) October 5, 2022

The group of volunteers changed into no longer approximately to let that occur.

For numerous hours Tuesday, the volunteers caught nets and their bare palms into cages to pen the birds in cages. The birds — from macaws to cockatoos and rare specimens of king parrots (simplest two dozen pairs are stored in the United States) — squawked and flapped their wings and their handlers placed them in cages.

Some whistled and spoke, together with numerous with mischievous vocabularies.

Ghassan Abboud, a Chicago dentist who owns a chicken farm in West Palm Beach, is an acquaintance of the sanctuary owners. When he heard in their plight, he mustered his assets to assist. He had imagined commissioning a small boat to ferry cages from Pine Island to a dock on the mainland, in which an air-conditioned trailer might transport the birds to his property throughout the Florida peninsula.