After building a career as a successful professional portrait artist (photography), Brooke Durham suffered a career-ending injury to her spine, with permanent nerve damage. Years of rehabilitation later, Brooke began volunteering a considerable amount of time with a large local wildlife rescue center where she was able to forget her own physical pain as long as she was focused on these often-forgotten members of the animal community.
Working in a large wildlife rehab organization exposed Brooke to a huge variety of wildlife species (reptile, mammal, and avian) that call Southern California home. The most interesting and fateful of these animals were a pair of naturalized nestling wild Amazon parrot chicks. They were the inspiration for the establishment of SoCal Parrot – “A non-profit that exists to bridge the gap of care and consideration that naturalized parrots fall into because they are neither native wildlife nor truly domestic.” In 2017 Hurricane Harvey delivered a near-miss to the habitat of the last 2,500 or so remaining Green-cheeked (aka Red-crowned) Amazon parrots that call the Lower Rio Grande home, reiterating that the naturalized flocks of parrots in Southern California may one day soon serve as the genetic reservoir for this species.
In early 2017 Brooke was awarded the first new wildlife rehabilitation permit in the San Diego area in 25 years. She and her team are working hard to establish SoCal Wildlife to continue bridging gaps in care and consideration in the field of wildlife rehabilitation. She considers her personal mission to be fostering better communication and collaboration within the field for the health and wellness of both wildlife rehabilitators and the animals we serve.