About 275 exotic birds including some of the world’s rarest parrot species were rescued from a Florida wildlife sanctuary after their owners refused to evacuate without them following Hurricane Ian.
The mission, dubbed Operation Noah Ark, also saw two lemurs being transported to West Palm Beach from Pine Island.
All the animals will stay there until a collapsed bridge is repaired and life on the island returns to normal.
Volunteers captured and captured birds – from macaws to parakeets and rare specimens of king parrots – and then brought them to Fort Myers by a fleet of small boats.
The birds have relied on food donated by wildlife officials since Ian was attacked, but concerns about supplies have grown due to the collapsed bridge and the scarcity of fuel on the island.
More than 100 people have died in the US since Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast with tremendous force last Wednesday, bringing torrential rain and gusts of 150 km/h.
The Malama Manu Sanctuary rescue comes after Will Peratino and his partner Lauren Stepp refused to leave their Pine Island property, despite authorities urging residents to leave their homes.
In the days leading up to Ian’s arrival, they packed their birds into their home to shield them from the storm.
Ms. Stepp said: “We will not abandon them. I will never abandon them. Never.
“If they don’t get fed or watered, they die. And I can’t live with that.”
“You don’t know what we’ve been through here. We had four feet of water in the house, damn it, almost drowned,” said Mr. Peratino with tears in his eyes.
“Keeping every bird safe is a huge task. I mean, it’s almost impossible to do. So the help we’ve received has been invaluable.”