Kids (and Kids at Heart) will Love the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary

Cayman Parrot Sanctuary signage
by Toni Keesee

One of the newest attractions on the East End, the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary is well worth the drive to the other side of the island. In addition to Cayman parrots, the sanctuary is also home to local agoutis, hermit crabs, guinea pigs, snakes, many additional birds and others! Visit and you can see them all while touring the site.

A fantastic example of eco-tourism, the sanctuary serves to rehabilitate local animals while giving visitors the opportunity to learn about the animals and support conservation efforts.

Flip the Cayman Parrot
Cayman parrots at the sanctuary.

There are several trails that wind around the huge bird houses. Plan on meeting Cayman parrots like Flip, Cherry, Stumpy, Nicky, Olga and others. How about a bird chat? Beau, the Yellow Naped Amazon Parrot and Coco, the Umbrella Cockatoo, both talk! (But they also bite, so keep those fingers out of their cages.) You’ll also see cockatiels, doves, pigeons and many more species of birds.

Coco the talking parrot
Coco, one of the talking parrots at the sanctuary.

The most magical experience is getting to walk into the parakeet cage. The staff will give you feed and then show you how to walk into the cage and hand feed the birds. The birds will come land on your hand or on your arm and snack on the treats you’re holding. Joyful giggles abound.

in cage feeding parakeets
Feeding the parakeets.

The animals on site are intriguing, too. Perhaps most interesting are the agoutis which live on the North Side and East End of the island but are rarely spotted in the wild. They look much like a mix between a rabbit and a rat (and I’d even say squirrel). Two of the agoutis at the sanctuary are hopefuls for being released back into the wild, but one is a permanent resident. And he’s quite popular.

Little Bit and a wild agouti
Little Bit being fed a peanut on the left, and a wild agouti burying food on the right.

Little Bit, the resident agouti, came to the sanctuary after his mother was unfortunately hit by a car. The staff have hand fed and raised this little guy since he arrived, and thus Little Bit is very tame. Visitors can walk into his “pad” (an exterior area with an awning and his very own black leather couch) to pet and feed him. He can be a little shy, but if you’ve got a peanut there’s no doubt he’ll pay you a visit. If he’s full, he’ll grab the peanut and bury it for later.

Other animals you can see at the park include snakes, turtles and hermit crabs. You can even hold the snakes if you’re the daring type. I opted out of this one. Ha!

guide holding snake at Cayman Parrot Sanctuary
A guide handles one of the snakes at the park.

But I did not opt out of the opportunity to slide down one one of the yellow slides on the deck above the reptile room. Kids will love the slides, and the additional play area provided. There’s even a small zipline for kids! And if you have any special events coming up you can reserve space at the play area to host your party.

First opened to the public in 2020, the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary was brought to life by founder, Ron Hargrave, who also owns Tukka right across the street. While deciding what to do with the space, Ron reached out to the Department of Tourism to discuss collaborating, and a partnership was born. Now the department works with the sanctuary and thus far 30 Cayman parrots have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

two guides pose at sanctuary
Two wonderful guides at the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary, Kira & Yairon.

Unfortunately not all of the parrots are deemed fit to be released back into the wild, so the sanctuary serves another important role in giving them a long term home. When we visited there were 20 Cayman parrots on site, 16 resident parrots (which will stay long term), and 4 parrots that the team was hopeful to release later.

After touring the sanctuary we popped across the street for dinner at Tukka. (You can also have Tukka take-out delivered to the sanctuary if you’d like to eat in the park.) We decided to eat across the street for the chance to see the huge frigate birds at the Tukka 5:00 feeding. We were out of luck the day we went, but we’ll be back! I’m determined to get a frigate to eat out of my hand. On our way back we actually saw a pack of them huddled over something near the Blow Holes, so we guessed they had found dinner elsewhere for the evening.

In summary, the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary is most definitely worth the drive to the East End, especially if you have kiddos. And those young at heart will thoroughly enjoy it as well—I know me and my husband did! Admission for adults is $16 and for kids 3-15 years old it’s $10. Children 2 years old and below and Seniors over 65 years old get in free. You can find the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary on the East End at 835 Austin Conolly Drive. If you visit, let us know which animal is your favorite!