Alumni Couple’s Bird Diaper Invention Takes Flight

By James J. Lidington

As a Navy lieutenant commander, Mark Moore always thought it would be his years of service as a supply officer, if anything, that would win him attention; and at that, probably only in naval publications.

But that was before he and his wife, Lorraine, both ODU graduates, patented a product that has liberated thousands of household pets worldwide and surpassed his wildest expectations for media exposure: bird diapers.

The washable garments, called FlightSuits, range in size from small (parakeets) to large (macaws). They secure with hook-and-loop fabric closures and come in an array of colors and styles, including tuxedo (with tails) and patriotic designs. They sell for $19.95 to $25.99.

FlightSuits are engineered to catch the birds’ droppings and hold them away from their bodies, freeing the creatures to spend additional time out of their cages and be more a part of their owners’ lives without the messy stains on furniture and carpets, Mark explained.

Talk to him for any length of time and one can’t help but notice his sense of humor. He likes to say that he and Lorraine founded the business “on a lark.”

Initially, they came up with the idea so their pet birds could travel with them. While stationed in San Diego in 1996, they teamed up with a fabric designer and crafted their first diapers. Driving cross country during a subsequent military move, they were amazed at the positive response from curious fellow travelers at rest stops. That’s when they decided they should try to market the “suits.”

Mark has since retired from the Navy to run the family business full time, and Lorraine, a career Navy nurse reservist, retired in January. Their bird diapers have garnered stories in Time, The Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as mentions on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “Animal Planet.”

“It’s a dubious notoriety,” Mark acknowledges. “If anyone had told me when I was in the Navy that I’d one day make a living selling bird diapers, I would have said they were, well – a bit flighty.”

As of Jan. 1, they had sold $700,000 worth of FlightSuits since launching the company six years earlier. Their Web site, www.flightquarters.com, receives more than 1,100 hits daily. (Orders may also be placed at 1-888-412-POOP.) The Moores take orders at their Northern Virginia home from around the world. “We’ve sold enough of these that we’re convinced we’re filling a need,” Mark said.

Lorraine (then Lorraine Pfiester) and Mark met through ODU’s Catholic Campus Ministry. He received his bachelor’s degree in business in 1985 and is working toward a second master’s in education via ODU’s Military Career Transition Program. Lorraine earned her B.S. in nursing in 1983.

They live in Stafford, Va., with their children, Nick, 14, and Geni, 12, and four feathered friends: Maddie, an umbrella cockatoo; Rainbow, a nancap conure; Seneca, a cockatiel; and Flick, a parakeet.