The World Bird Sanctuary’s mission is to preserve the earth’s biological diversity, and to secure the future of threatened bird species in their natural environments. We work to fulfill our mission through education, propagation, field studies, and rehabilitation.
Established in 1977, World Bird Sanctuary works to preserve and protect bird species around the world, while inspiring people to join us in our battle against the endangerment and extinction of species. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with over two hundred non-releasable birds in our care, and more than five hundred birds receiving medical care in our rehabilitation hospital every year for release back into the wild, our mission becomes quite an expensive labor of love.
During our forty-one-year tenure, we have contributed to bringing the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and American Barn Owl back from the brink of extinction by breeding those species at our sanctuary and releasing the matured young into the wild. We continue our conservation efforts to this day by working with endangered vultures, eagles, condors, owls and falcons. Meanwhile, our wildlife hospital has treated over 21,000 injured birds of prey and released over forty-three percent of those individuals back to the wild. Also, during this time, our education department has taught over one million people per year about the importance of birds of prey and their environment with our local and traveling education programming.
The birds in our care reside in the safest, state-of-the-art avian housing, receive the very best nutrition and veterinary care, and participate in educational programs for both their own enrichment and exercise, as well as for the education of our public. Our birds are treated as highly respected and valued members of our family, and their proper care is the first priority of every day at the sanctuary. Education birds receive proper time off from public life, they are trained with positive reinforcement techniques only, and if they do not wish to participate in programs, they are not forced to do so.
Our keepers and staff are well-trained leaders in their field. Our sanctuary is funded by donations from the public, and with earnings from our educational programs. We receive no local, county, state or federal funding. World Bird Sanctuary holds eleven federal (US Fish and Wildlife) and state (MO) permits and undergoes regular inspections of our facilities and operations by these entities. We have been the standard for raptor rehabilitation, conservation and education for over forty years.
Environmental educators across the globe have learned that the key to truly reaching audiences regarding the importance of the survival of species and their importance on this earth is the incorporation of ambassadors of those species in our educational programming.
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum
Part of the attempt to show the natural behaviors of our birds is the free-flight of birds in education programs. Free-flight has often proven to be the “wow” factor of our programs and tends to be the element that truly captures the hearts of our program participants. Every precaution possible is taken with these flights, which requires working closely with each venue to ensure the safety of our precious birds. However, there are sometimes surprises that occur during a flight and/or our bird decides to take a different course than it did during practice flights. Thankfully, they will generally attempt to return to the trainer that they can see, and if they cannot, they are gentle with those public individuals they may encounter along the way. We are proud to say that our birds are highly trained and skilled individuals, as are the humans that work so hard with them on a daily basis. As many of you have stated, it is not the execution of a perfect behavior that truly shows the mark of good training, but rather how the animal behaves when something goes wrong. Clark the eagle was a perfect example of this statement on December 29th at the Cotton Bowl.
Although this flight by our Clark did not go as planned, we are still proud of him and the WBS Eagle Flight Team. His safety was the much higher priority than completing the flight as planned. Unfortunately, he did not like the field-sized flag that was featured during the pre-game performance and decided to return to the trainers who released him instead of continuing down to the trainers waiting for him on the field. He got extremely close to the releasing trainers, but landed on two fans instead, who treated him with great respect and got the thrill of their lives. We are grateful to report that Clark suffered no ill-effects from the experience and is back to his regular routine at the sanctuary after receiving his special post-flight victory meal on Saturday night. The Eagle Team has not quite recovered from the stressful event, but thanks everyone who helped ensure Clark’s safety. He is such a sweet boy and priceless treasure.
We thank everyone for their support of WBS and love for Clark throughout this event. We know you all understand how truly loved and spoiled he is!