PINE ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Will Peratino and his partner Lauren Stepp would not leave their Pine Island compound, even as authorities pleaded with residents to abandon their homes because of damaged roads, including a collapsed bridge that prevented deliveries of food, gas and other life-sustaining supplies.
But the couple could not leave without their two lemurs and flock of birds — 275 parrots, including some of the world’s rarest.
So a rescue mission — dubbed “Operation Noah’s Ark” — was launched Tuesday to catch, cage and ferry the birds off the island, as a condition to persuade Peratino and Stepp to leave the island.
“We would not abandon them. I would never leave them. Never,” said Stepp, as volunteers worked on collecting the flock from dozens of coops at the Malama Manu Sanctuary. “If they cannot be fed or watered, they will die. And I can’t live with that.”
“Malama” is the Hawaiian word for protect, “manu” means bird.