About ParroTainment.
~ Written By Jason Sampson

The story I always tell of how I knew I had won Nikki’s heart was when I managed to find a pair of Axolotls and a tank for her room, on her 21st birthday. This was while we were still at Potchefstroom University, when we met she was studying Zoology and myself Botany.
We have always been surrounded by animals, and have a strong motivation to increase their quality of life in captivity. Within our family circle we have, over the years, welcomed cats and dogs, tarantulas, iguana, bearded dragons and tortoises, various amphibians, sugar gliders (small, gliding marsupials), multitudes of feeder insect species, and of course the birds, from finches to chickens and the focus of our love in later years, those fascinating, intelligent, frustrating and beloved in equal measure, those precious little dinosaur descendants, the parrots!

These remarkable little souls have quite stolen our hearts, and we keep nowhere near the variety of companions that have graced our lives in the past, but the lessons learnt from them remain.
We have always been very active in the various animal keeping communities we found ourselves in, and helped share our expertise where we could, from botanical advice on feeding domesticated cockroaches (for tarantulas) to developing the South African version of the fresh food diet plan for sugar gliders, which is still promoted by hobbyists more than ten years later, as well as such experts such as Dr Elliott of Onderstepoort Bird and Exotic Animal Clinic, to owners of these fascinating little beasts. This was a first of its kind, a do-it-yourself feeding plan that allowed keepers to properly maintain their pets without having to use expensive imported formula.

We were very involved members of some of the first SA companion parrot Facebook pages, most notably Elna de Wits “Birds and Beaks” and “Die Papegaai Kombuis”, both pages that have had a lasting effect on the correct husbandry of companion birds even though they have not been active in many years. It was on those pages that we introduced Moringa oleifera to parrot keepers in South Africa for the first time. This is something that we had been feeding for years to various animals with huge success. This plant was soon to replace spirulina in use by many private keepers and breeders due to ease (and safety) of use and remarkable health benefits.

Holistic means considering all aspects of an animal’s care, and when one is dealing with exotic animals one needs to realize a few things: Each species is different. Even within a family of species, what is good advice for say a Galah cockatoo is not what suits an Eclectus parrot, and contrasts with what a Cape parrot needs. In the examples given here, the first species is a ground foraging, migratory species that is adapted to grass seed feeding, the middle species specializes in poor quality forage with a high soluble fiber (specifically pectin) content, and the last is a predator of seed in unripe wild fruit and nut analogues. One can make different observations for almost any species of parrot in captivity, and when one adds other exotic animals to the list you can imagine how much research and reading Nikki and I were doing to make sure our menagerie was being fed correctly!

The ParroTainment mixes were launched in 2017, and were the first parrot food products in South Africa to use the “herbal”, or plant based super-food powder feeding principle. In short, a quality, healthy seed mix can incorporate an all-natural powder base formulated for its nutritional and health-giving qualities. A refinement of this is that the powder base must taste good to the bird, and be useful as a mixer in fresh food and pellets to encourage birds to convert to healthy diets.

Over the years we have added a few refinements and new products, such as a legume based cooking mix that can allow for pellet equivalent feeding for families such as ours which use very few processed feeds, our “Tastemaker” which is the superfood/spice-mix concept written large for picky eaters and birds that should have very little “bulk” seed in their diets for various reasons, and engaged in partnerships with like-minded experts in their field, such as Margie Frayne, the world renowned Herbalist of decades of experience behind the “Herbs for Birds” range.

Our products are trusted and stocked by numerous vets (including Onderstepoort Bird and Exotic Animal Clinic and the Cape Exotic Animal Hospital), and only the most ethical vendors. We are an entirely online business and tend to be fairly private, but do run an educational platform on Facebook. Our animal charity of choice is Brainy Birds Parrot Rescue and Rehabilitation, and one can buy food vouchers from our online shop to help support the precious birds in this sanctuaries care.

Our home flock currently consists of Eclectus, African Grey, Senegal, Jardine and Cape parrots as well as a Blue and Gold and Hahns macaw, while we also have ex breeder cockatiels, sun conures and Rueppells parrots in our aviaries outside, as well as an 18-month-old human child, who is sometimes a bit confused by all the different faces, and voices, in her family! Our flock are always the most enthusiastic fans of our foods, and their condition has been used in lectures more than once to veterinary students as an example of how a healthy specimen of that species is supposed to look (as have, for different reasons, photos of our rescue Eclectus female Nina’s bites, but that is a tale for another blog post entirely!)

ParroTainment South Africa is a family owned business, owned and operated by Nikki and Jason Sampson.  Facebook page and website

Certain ParroTainment articles have appeared in print media, most notably an article on the importance of soluble fiber in Eclectus diets for the American Society of Aviculturists Bulletin, and one on the theory and practice of Herbal Medicine, co-authored by Margie Frayne and published in World Wide Birds Magazine.

Their “infographic” posters on subjects as diverse as “chop” building, to edible flowers actually found in SA gardens, to non-toxic common woods useful for aviary and toy use, not to mention the first researched list of Avian Vets in South Africa are a staple sharable item amongst the South African Companion Parrot Community (SACPC) on social media.
They are well known as poisonous plant experts, and often field questions from vets as well as private owners across the country on both identification of plants as well as their active principles.

Nikki and Jason welcomed their first human child into the family in 2021, where she lives a magical life surrounded by her animal friends, and they hope to be a quiet good influence and educational voice for companion parrot owners for years to come.

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