A woman who attempted to establish a center near Beaumont for exotic birds faces a hearing next week in Florida where authorities say she abandoned 12 of them in a rented house.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office has been trying to locate Wende DeOliveira to serve papers for her to attend the Jan. 15 hearing over custody of the birds.
The birds were in poor shape when found two months ago. Their conditions have improved since being in foster care, according to Florida authorities.
Florida authorities have been in phone contact with DeOliveira but she has twice declined to be served with papers.
DeOliveira, 53, sought to turn an 86-acre farm along Crow Hill Road into the Woody Acres Avian Conservation Eco Center that would feature her collection of tropical birds. Her plans for the Wyoming County property included a petting zoo, walking trails, botanical gardens and holding conventions, demonstrations and exhibits in a renovated barn.
She anticipated opening part of the non-profit center in 2010 and held fundraisers in 2009 to help pay for the project.
On a website for the center, woodyacresavian.webs.com, she said she would seek the accreditation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The center’s mission would be to help sustain the population of rare species through the management of captive breeding. If the fundraising fell short, she would not have to build the center to the association’s standards and planned to keep the center private and closed to the public.
“People may not remember me after I’m gone,” DeOliveira said, according to the website, “but when my birds wind up somewhere else and are protected here in the United States — that will be my legacy.”
It could not be determined Friday when DeOliveira went to Florida or what became of the property in Beaumont.