I have volunteered at The Gulf Coast Exotic Bird Sanctuary off and on since 2011. I would still be an active volunteer if my work schedule would allow it. The people who volunteer there are angels on Earth who sacrifice personal time away from their families and friends to care for the birds who live there. Each animal has his or her own story as to why he or she is there and is insured a loving home for the rest of his or her life. The Sanctuary does outreach to educate the public about exotic birds and the lifelong commitment in owning these intelligent, emotional creatures. In a perfect world, there would be no need for animal sanctuaries, but thankfully GCEBS exists for those birds in need of a forever home.
I have volunteered many times at this sanctuary and I have nothing but positive praise for the facility and the people who run it. They are always in dire need of funds because it is unbelievable how many people get parrots and are not prepared to provide them healthy and safe environments. The sanctuary rescues as many birds as possible, but there is always so much more to do. I have enjoyed working with Gulf Coast and I have nothing but respect for their empathy for birds in need and their desire to help in every way possible.
I can speak of the dedication of the volunteer staff and family members responding during the Harvey flooding during the storm to get the animals to safety. Wading in waist deep sometimes deeper to move dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, parrots and even a ferret to safety. They spent days caring for the birds left in tall caging dragging a boat with food and clean water. Many wonderful people came after the waters receded to help clean up the muck, mud dirty bedding and flood debris they were kind and hard working people. Not one Parrot large or small was lost during this disaster and aftermath that says volumes about the care the inhabitants of the sanctuary receive.
I volunteered at GCEBS for about six months and could not keep up with the incredible work the unpaid staff and volunteers do. They are incredible. They know so much about parrots and other exotic species and always provide the best of medical care. The birds get great food and clean water everyday. Those with special needs are provided for. The sanctuary never turns a bird away no matter their situation. This is a really worthy charity.
Ive spent my entire life volunteering around animals. I have to say the care, knowledge and dedication of the volunteers is unparalleled. Every bird there gets checked on a daily basis, their water bottles and food dishes are scrubbed thoroughly. The ones that want human interaction get snuggle time too. It doesnt matter if its 100 degrees outside, or freezing rain, the unpaid volunteers. Do an amazing job. If a bird looks or acts sickly, it is rushed to the vet.
Ive been out there many times as both a volunteer, and as a photographer.
I remember when the ATV that is used daily to haul over 100lbs of supplies was stolen from the sanctuary. The team went without, resorting to hauling everything across the acreage by hand and in a little red wagon instead of diverting funding donated for other specific purposes. It took about a year before the sanctuary was able to replace the ATV. So i find it hard to believe the negative reviewers accusation of misappropriated funding, and have seen the aviaries she donated the funds for.
Review from Guidestar
I have worked with this sanctuary for years. The directors and volunteers are some of the most dedicated people on the planet. They spend every morning of every day working hard to ensure the birds of GCEBS want for nothing.
Review from Guidestar
The person who wrote the bad review should be ashamed for writing false information. First the founder Lavenia was only present the day she was escorted off the sanctuary property. This person would just show up and complain to volunteers the whole time as they were trying to work. The 30 parakeets are obseved daily for injuries or to see if any look thin. Her parakeet had some poop build up and a director took him to the avian vet. The vet stated there was nothing major wrong and the parakeet just had too much fat in his diet so the vet adjusted the diet accordingly. She chose to take him home since he needed a specific diet requirement. She was never told funds were used elsewhere and the aviaries are up. The sanctuary never asked for funding or new aviaries. She would show up with a check and tell volunteers which birds she wanted to get an aviary for. Her opinion of making things unsafe for birds was when she showed up and insisted some box turtles in one of the aviaries she purchased be removed because " box turtles kill birds" and since she bought the aviary the sanctuary needed to abide. At that time she was escorted out and told she was no longer welcome. She had given all the volunteers such a hard time every time she came and wanted things done her way that it was in the best interest of the sanctuary that she not come back. Several large humane organizations have visited and inspected the sanctuary before partnering with the sanctuary on cruelty seizures. They were very pleased.
I took my bird babies to this sanctuary because we moved around a lot and thought it would be a better place for them. Lavenia seemed to genuinely care about birds. I paid for their lifelong care, made hefty donations for aviaries, and only called once a month and visited every other month to check on my birds (I live far from the sanctuary). on one of my visits I noticed my parakeet was sick (neither she nor her staff had noticed) and I had to stay 2 extra days just to make sure she took him to the vet. then rather than take care of him like, through his sponsorship, I had paid her to do,she made me take him home that day. then I started to notice that she was doing things around the sanctuary that were not safe for the birds, and when I asked her about it she permanently banned me from the sanctuary. Since I'm not able to keep my birds, it feels as if she is holding them hostage. Lavenia Fernandez is also shady in her financial practices; we donated a large sum of money specifically because she said the sanctuary was in dire need of aviaries, yet for 2 years those aviaries were not built and Lavenia said she spent the money on "other needs" for the sanctuary. please, for the safety of your birds DO NOT PUT YOUR BIRDS IN GULF COAST EXOTIC BIRD SANCTUARY.