About Nate & Betsy Lott - Founders of Mollywood

About 10 years ago we were living in Campbell, CA when our neighbors across the street were going to let their two parakeets go free (in late October) because they simply didn't want them. We spoke up and that's how we ended up with two budgies in our apartment. About 2 or so years later, we saw an ad for a baby parrot for $100 in the mini-ads one day. Upon going to check it out, we found out they meant "parrotlet" but we ended up buying a supposedly young blue crown conure. Later we learned she was probably 2 years old at least given the import band on her leg.

A few months later while on our way out to work with our horse, we stopped at the local feed store that just happened to also have parrots for sale. We fell in love with the 8 month old Blue and Gold macaw there and did what all ignorant people do: Impulse Purchased the bird. This also led us to impulse buy two more birds: cockatoos.

Wanting to do the right thing, we thing got busy trying to learn everything possible. We bought all the old copies of Pet Bird Report there (now called Companion Parrot Quarterly), we bought pellets because that's what the store owner had all the birds on, and we also bought "A Guide to a Well Behaved Parrot". And that was just the beginning. We went to seminars, read everything we could find, asked questions, found a vet, you name it.

Our lives were fine for about a year when out of the blue, the same store owner we got the others at called us to ask if we wanted another macaw - one who was biting and screaming his way out of house and home. We must have had "STUPID" labeled on us somewhere because we said yes, sure.

Over the course of the next 6 years, we inadvertently got involved with parrot rescue. It started out as simple rescue and adoption and gradually grew into more sanctuary needs, as many of the birds coming in were simply no longer companion quality birds. Here are some simple stats for just us:

  • In 1996 we bought a house in Sunnyvale, CA and moved in with 12 birds.
  • In January 2000 we took our first vacation in over 5 years - we had 44 birds at that time.
  • In January 2001 we were able to take what will probably be our last vacation for some time - we had 92 birds.
  • In October 2001 we moved lock, stock and flock to our new farm in Washington - we had 131 birds. (Two lovebirds were adopted shortly after we arrived).
  • Nate had to fly back to Sunnyvale to clean, repair and get our house down there ready to sell. He was home for exactly 7 days and already had 12 birds arrive there. It never ends….
  • Meanwhile, back in Bellingham, we have one cockatoo flying in from a fellow rescue organization in the Mid-West and 4 more cockatoos coming in from other parts of Washington.

We seem to have a special insight into the needs and wants of cockatoos and after coming to the realization that Moluccans would almost rather be dead than in captivity, we decided we had to do something to help those we could. (And pray for all those we couldn't.) We moved from California to Washington for a few reasons:

  • Cost of living (Betsy needed to be somewhere she could devote 100% of her time to the flock - and not some full time job to help support it).
  • Space for the birds (and room to scream all they want)
  • There have basically been very few parrot rescue programs in the Pacific Northwest in general (and particularly nothing professional in Whatcom County). The demand has been growing greater with each passing year.

And that's us in a nutshell. We would be more than happy to expand further but there are other parts of this website you need to see!

Mission Statement and Basic Background Information

The Mollywood Avian Sanctuary's mission is to provide a permanent, safe and loving home and future for all psittacine species [hookbill parrots] that are free from contagious diseases. Birds are not offered for adoption from Mollywood. When appropriate, as often as possible, attempts are made to refer birds requiring re-homing to suitable new homes prior to their acceptance into Mollywood. Lifetime sanctuary care in a natural environment is often the best option for displaced, abused or mentally ill captive parrots that have failed to thrive in a single family home. Many pet parrots have been raised in captivity and are strongly bonded to humans. Some will thrive in a flock setting, with little human interaction, while others would not know what to do in this situation. At Mollywood their wild nature and complex needs are understood and respected.

More effective captive breeding processes in the past two decades have increased the supply and decreased the cost of parrots to the retail pet trade. This situation has contributed to making parrots the third most popular pet in the U.S., following cats and dogs. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's breakdown of pet ownership in the U.S., according to the 2003/2004 National Pet Owners Survey, found that birds are found in 17.3 million homes, and that 46 percent of all households surveyed own more than one pet. Other studies estimate the captive parrot population to be between 12 and 60 million in the U.S. Under-educated buyers and sellers, and miscommunications and misconceptions between them, often result in the suffering of many birds and the disenchantment of many consumers. This drives a great need for shelters and sanctuaries capable of handling displaced birds. Studies show 85 percent of all parrots are given away or sold within the first two years and that rescuers are only able to care for about 1 percent of these birds.

Parrots become homeless for many of the same reasons as dogs and cats, such as unexpected life-changing situations in the owners’ lives. As with other exotic species, people are fascinated by the idea of having a parrot as a pet, but few are prepared for the special responsibility of caring for a wild creature that will most likely outlive them. Parrots’ natural behavior and perception of the world around them often does not match what people expect of a companion animal. As a result, many birds in captivity live in substandard, neglectful and/or abusive conditions due to the lack of public education. Gradually, through increased awareness, birds in these situations are referred to sanctuaries like Mollywood.

Mollywood’s overall goals include ending the misinformation that contributes to the cycle of abused, neglected and abandoned pet birds. An important tool in the fight to improve the lives of birds is education. Community outreach and action is required to improve public knowledge regarding the status of parrots in domestic and native situations. The outreach and education initiative will begin Mollywood’s proactive efforts toward educating and re-educating the public, with the goal of reducing the high turnover rate of newly acquired pet parrots. Mollywood Avian Sanctuary’s Community Outreach and Education Initiative proposal emphasizes public education regarding the requirements and challenges of owning parrots as pets. The hope is to enlighten the public by presenting opportunities for visitors to interact with some special cases. These visits will inspire compassion for parrots that have potentially suffered due to their caregivers’ ignorance and selfishness. Emphasis will be placed on the immense responsibility of caring for a parrot, highlighting the complexity, expense and time commitment that goes with sharing daily life with these delicate creatures. The education center will also offer the chance to learn about parrots in the wild.

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