Inside The Oasis Sanctuary

The Oasis Sanctuary in Cascabel, Arizona provides permanent sanctuary for hundreds of parrots.

The Oasis Sanctuary Facebook banner
Oasis Sanctuary/Facebook

The Oasis Sanctuary was founded by Sybil Erden in her home in Phoenix, Arizona. It was incorporated in 1997 and was the first avian rescue organization in the United States to become a 501(c)(3) sanctuary for exotic birds in December of that year.

Starting with mostly small unwanted birds from the Phoenix area, Erden soon realized the need to expand the facility. In 1999, with the help of supporters she purchased the current 73 acre site located 25 miles north of Benson, Arizona, in an area called Cascabel. The 250 birds in residence at that time moved to this facility in September 2000. Today, the Oasis has parrots from around the country that have found their way here to live out their life. The original charter of The Oasis remains their mission today.

The Oasis does not breed, adopt out, sell or trade birds. Their slogan states their purpose, “Our mission is a life-long commitment.” Once a bird arrives it is guaranteed a lifetime of care and compassion.

As a sanctuary, the Oasis provides permanent sanctuary placement and care to exotic birds (mainly parrots) for which other options do not exist. Many birds face euthanasia due to loss of a caregiver, physiological impairment, handicaps, behavioral unsuitability, old age, abuse or lack of other home placement options. The Oasis also works with local, state, and national governmental agencies and accepts birds that may otherwise be put down (illegal imports, animal control abuse situations, owner abandonment, etc.).

These are the objectives of the Oasis:

  • To provide permanent sanctuary to any psittacines who have no fatal, contagious disease but are otherwise unplaceable in homes;
  • To develop and build naturalistic habitats (free-flights) for the birds in residence at The Oasis Sanctuary;
  • To continue working with bona fide avian and animal welfare organizations in an effort to ensure that every parrot in captivity has a safe and loving home and that the remaining wild population is protected from commercial exploitation;
  • To educate the public about psittacines, their proper care in captivity and their place in the wild.

When asked about the challenges The Oasis faces in the changing bird community, Janet Trumbule, executive director of administration, said, “The numbers of parrots in need of care continues to rise. We believe that as long as there are parrots without appropriate homes that breeding should not be happening. But babies continue to be sold, contributing to this issue. We currently care for 800 birds, and our resources are at capacity.

“Working with and supporting for life those behaviorally challenged birds, birds that are handicapped, the geriatric, etc., is a resource intensive venture. We must be very realistic and closely manage our population to ensure that we continue to provide ultimate care to the birds at The Oasis,?Trumbule said. “I receive requests for placement for about 1,100 birds a year. Unless it is a life-critical situation, I must turn the bird away. I am aware that other sanctuaries have similar relinquishment requests and are dealing with similar challenges.?lt;/span>

She finds it frightening to consider the path the avian community is facing with so few resources to help for so many years to come. “It breaks my heart every time I cannot find a way to help a bird,?she said.

Every bird, like this African grey parrot, can be sponsored at Oasis Sanctuary, and each bird only has one sponsor.  
Every bird can be sponsored at Oasis Sanctuary, and each bird only has one sponsor. 

How The Oasis Promotes Conservation
“We promote conservation and non-invasive research,?Trumbule said. “We often invite experts in these areas as keynote speakers for our annual events. We also promote projects via our media outlets and print communications.?lt;/span>

The Oasis has hosted Jamie Gilardi from World Parrot Trust, Dr. Irene Pepperberg from The Alex Foundation, Dr. Scott Echols from the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, and supported Mary Rose from Chirping Central in her solo efforts to support conservation). Sharing their work with Oasis supporters is an important tool in education.

The Oasis promotes ‘working vacations.’ Their very rural location is not easy for day volunteers so folks who want to spend a long weekend, a week or a month are more than welcome to come out.

The Oasis Sanctuary is the first exotic bird sanctuary to have dual accreditation from the American Sanctuary Association (ASA) and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). It is also a founding member and facilitating leader in the Avian Rescue Network (ARN).

The Oasis promotes direct communication with owners when relinquishment requests are received. Often this is an opportunity to help owners understand the challenges they are facing with their bird; sometimes they can find a solution to help and not have to give up their bird. Consultations like this occur on a daily basis. Some behavioral help is provided, but often the sanctuary refers to behaviorists who can provide more in depth advice.

As a sanctuary the Oasis is not open to the public, but they do offer tours by appointment. Many visitors are bird owners and the few hours spent on the tour is a special time to talk one-on-one and discuss what it means to have a parrot in your life. There is a lot of responsibility and many people don’t realize the consequences of some of their actions until they meet the birds in the sanctuary? care. Sharing stories of each bird brings to light many things that owners can do to have a better relationship with their companion bird.

For the most part, the Oasis believes they help best by enlightening people about their work and sharing with bird owners the importance of their dedication to their bird(s).

The Oasis provides informational articles in their printed newsletter, on their website, e-news and Facebook page. Trumbule is always available to speak at bird club meetings and has done that on numerous occasions.

The Oasis invites in experts like James Gilardi of the World Parrot Trust, or Dr. Irene Pepperberg from The Alex Foundation, to speak at their annual events.

How To Get Involved With Oasis
There are so many ways to get involved with the Oasis:

Bird Sponsorship: Every bird is available for sponsorship, and each bird has only one sponsor. This is so that people can really connect to the Oasis bird they have offered to help, according to the Sanctuary. The sponsorship donation varies by species, single or pair. Many sponsors not only help financially but also send their sponsored bird toys and treats.

Membership: Folks can become members at varying levels based on their donation amount. Membership is primarily a statement of public support and faith in the sanctuary? efforts to care for so many special birds. Memberships start at $25 for a lovebird level, up to $5,000 as a Friend of The Oasis. Modest gifts (T-shirt, Oasis calendar, complimentary event reservation, etc.) are offered but can be waived if the member wishes to further conserve our resources.

Donor: As a 501(c)3 organization the Oasis relies on financial and in-kind (goods) donations to continue their work.

Volunteer: The Oasis promotes “working vacations.” Their very rural location is not easy for day volunteers so folks who want to spend a long weekend, a week or a month are more than welcome to come out. The Oasis can offer a place to stay with a private room and bath, a shared kitchen and living area, cable, wi-fi, and the great opportunity to work with the birds. They always need help with direct care of the birds, and they also need skilled volunteers to help with bigger projects. 

Advocate or fundraiser: There are so many ways that individuals can help the Oasis birds. There is one woman who makes foraging toys, and all proceeds support the birds. Other people have raised money through their bird club or made jewelry with part of the proceeds supporting the Oasis birds. Some supporters do presentations about Oasis at their bird clubs, etc. “We even had an eight-year old ask for donations of money and wish list items instead of receiving gifts at her birthday party. We have really wonderful supporters!?Trumbule said.

Learn more about the Oasis at their website.

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Birds · Lifestyle