Dozens of exotic parrots were found dead last month at a bird rescue and sanctuary in Snohomish County, Washington, according to Snohomish County Animal Services (SCAS).
The parrots were found at Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary which housed “cockatoos, macaws and African greys in species specific colonies,” according to the facility’s inactive Facebook page. Photos on the page show dozens of cockatoos and other birds housed outside in carport style enclosures.
An SCAS representative who asked not to be named said that the owner of Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary, Lori (Keene) Rutledge, 66, was hospitalized in mid-March and passed away March 19. The representative said Rutledge’s next of kin were not aware of the conditions at the animal sanctuary.
Animal control obtained a search warrant for the property and confiscated one cockatoo that was taken to an animal shelter. The representative confirmed that all of the other parrots that resided at the sanctuary had passed away. Social media posts indicate the birds died due to exposure and starvation.
Several posts indicate Rutledge may have had cancer and she was caring for all of the parrots without help.
SCAS manager Debby Zins told the Everett Herald about 50 birds were found dead on the property and "these were not birds that passed away recently."
The SCAS representative said that social media posts circulating that indicate up to 400 birds were found dead on the property are inaccurate and exaggerated.
“The lady passed away within a week of our involvement and it was just a sad situation and the family wasn’t aware because she was a bit of a recluse so they kind of got this dropped on them all at one time,” he said. “They’re still mourning this loss and this stuff on the internet is not helping the situation with them.”
Rutledge's family posted a statement on the Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary Facebook page April 6. Read that statement below:
"We are deeply saddened to report that Lori (Keene) Rutledge, director of the Cockatoo Rescue and Sanctuary, passed away unexpectedly at Skagit Valley Hospital on March 19, 2022. The birds residing at the Sanctuary have also passed away. Lori dedicated over 30 years of her life to loving and caring for these birds, she lived every moment devoted to them. This is a tragic loss for all. The family would appreciate no phone calls at this time while they mourn."