‘Rare jewels’ of the rainforests come to Harrisonville

kschwers@kcstar.comJune 14, 2017 

Macaws, cockatoos, parrots — these “rare jewels” make up some of the greatest joys in life to people like Yvonne Burbach and Tabatha Sipho. This summer, their organization is touring the region with several tropical birds.

Wings of Love, a nonprofit organization based in Pleasant Hill, presented one of its bird shows to a large audience in Harrisonville on Monday night.

More than 200 children and adults gathered in the Harrisonville branch of the Cass County Library to experience the sights and sounds of tropical birds, as well as one great horned owl. The program was sponsored by the Harrisonville Rotary Club.

Sipho led the show with some assistance from Burbach, the president of the organization and a longtime bird keeper. Sipho said Monday night was her third show.

“The main purpose for us is to encourage reading, and on top of that, to encourage keeping animals from being endangered, letting the kids know about deforestation and letting them see the animals somewhere other than the zoo,” Sipho said.

For more than 20 years, Sipho’s mentor, Burbach, has traveled around the region and the Midwest with her birds to libraries, schools, parties, community events and church gatherings. She said she also spent several years working as a horticulturist and a rainforest photojournalist, writing about tropical birds and observing them in their natural habitat. However, she says, too many birds of the rainforests have been smuggled out of their natural habitats and into other countries, such as the U.S. Saving exotic birds and educating the public have been the driving forces behind Burbach’s bird shows.

“It was my passion and I’ve always loved animals more than anything,” Burbach said. “These programs are very educational. Putting people back in touch with the beauty of nature just helps remind them of the importance of saving a place for them in this world.”

Wings of Love still has several shows coming up in the Kansas City region this summer, including a show at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Belton branch of the Cass County Library. The shows are free to attend.

For more information, visit www.wingsofloveinc.org.

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