Michele Raffin, founder of Pandemonium Aviaries

Michele Raffin— founder and CEO of Pandemonium Aviaries, a Northern California conservation organization dedicated to saving birds—recounts how rescuing an injured dove she spotted on the side of the road some 15 years ago launched her on the long, winding road she traveled moving Pandemonium from seat-of-the-pants rescue operation to internationally prominent breeding facility for avian species facing extinction due to the destruction of their natural habitat. Raffin_Pandemonium_3D_LR-v4_500_713_70_intAuthor of the recently-published memoir of sorts, “The Birds of Pandemonium: Life Among The Exotic & Arwin-week-3The Endangered,” Raffin also addresses the challenges of stepping into the quirky, colorful sub-culture of bird rescuers and breeders, where its denizens generally aren’t keen to share information and tend to be leery of newcomers (particularly, female newcomers.) She allows that those folks did not make it easy—definitely made her earn her stripes—but she turned a huge corner when she managed to breed a bird none of them had been able to. She talks in some detail about the evolution of Pandemonium Aviaries from rescue operation to conservation-minded 24806_mainbreeding facility, having selected six species of birds to breed that come from New Guinea and the Philippines—and are on the brink of extinction. A particularly vital conversation, given that so many animal organizations co-opt the term “conservation” in ways that are nefarious and phony, and when most sanctuaries and comparable facilities housing abused or abandoned animals say they allow breeding, it waves a big red flag—both standing in sharp contrast to Pandemonium’s philosophy and mission. Raffin also sprinkles the conversation with a number of wonderful anecdotes about some birds living at Pandemonium. (www.pandemoniumaviaries.org)

ALSO: We had a brief conversation with Darlynn Czerner, founder of Darlynn’s Darlings, the Polk City sanctuary housing some 200 animals, predominantly pigs. They need a new well—200 animals require a lot of water!—and Czerner describes their GoFundMe campaign underway to finance replacing the well. (http://darlynnsdarlins.webs.com)

COMEDY CORNER: Ellen DeGeneres’ “Birds Mating” (http://www.ellentv.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” EELS’ “I Like Birds,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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