South Africa

'Makes kissing sounds and farting noises' — but owners still want their parrot back

'Makes kissing sounds and farting noises' — but owners still want their parrot back

An African Grey parrot with a wide repertoire of vocal sounds and words urgently needs your help.

Theia, who was stolen on June 27 in Monument, Krugersdorp, is now the subject of a social media campaign called #BringTheiaHome.

According to the campaign's flyer, Theia can be identified by the “wide range of noises she makes and the words she has learnt”. She can miaow, bark like a dog and whistle like R2D2, the dustbin-shaped robot from Star Wars.

“She whistles and makes kissing sounds and farting noises,” reads the flyer. Her vocabulary includes “Tia”, “come girls”, “paw”, “Bella”, “baby girl”, “babbaloo”, “bolt”, dance” and “Clare”. She also says: “Stop it, Shane.” 

Calls to the two numbers on the flyer went unanswered but one belongs to a Shane Fowler.

According to the flyer, there is a R10,000 reward for Theia's safe return.

According to a Facebook post, Theia was stolen from the porch of a Krugersdorp home in June. “At the moment our family is going through a lot of strain,” said the post's author Clare. “I do believe Theia will be found. But our family really needs her home sooner rather than later.”

Theia, who had been with the family for 26 years, was “not just an African Grey parrot, she is a family member ... she is a companion to Shane and myself and my parrot Loki”.

She is not just an African Grey parrot. She is a family member

The African Grey is one of the world's most illegally trafficked birds, according to a report in the UK Independent. The lucrative and illegal trade is fuelled by demand in the Middle East and Asia where the birds are highly prized for their intelligence and ability at mimicry, the report said.

Wild populations have allegedly plummeted by nearly 80% in the past 50 years as a result of poaching, with an estimated three million of the birds poached.

In August last year, 60 dead African Greys were found on a Turkish Airlines flight from  Kinshasa bound for Kuwait via Istanbul, the report said. A 2016 report in Scientific American noted that the parrots had been all but wiped out in Ghana, thanks to a poaching and “rampant deforestation”.

In Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), however, the illegal trade is flourishing, the report said.

Because they nest in communities in the wild, the parrots are easy prey for poachers who sell them for upwards of $2,000 a piece. Poachers also use decoy birds tied to branches and “use glue to capture the birds that come to socialise with this bird,” the report said.

The parrots are then smuggled by air to buyers around the world. Many do not survive.

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