Meet Penelope

The Parrots of Mexiquitic

Meet Penelope

It’s been 8 weeks now since I intervened on the parrots of Mexquitic. Their diets have made a drastic change for the better, and with that many of their attitudes have changed as well. Maybe they see hope in their future. I like to think they do.

Usually upon arriving in the morning on Saturday I can hear them from down the path, chatting away. Once I get into the aviary the chatting usually turns more into a squawking. They know I've brought their special chop and my handy misting bottle. I run my routine backwards now. I start in the cafeteria and work my way to aviary 1. This is all because of Penelope, the Military Macaw. She stole my heart. She was a Zoo "drop off". Meaning someone left her and her cage on the property and they found her cold and hungry the next morning. Penelope has issues like so many in the Zoo. She is terrified of men and aggressive towards children. She was deemed the mean bird and stuck in a corner away from people with a sign saying she bites. The first thing that might catch your eye about Penelope is her strange coloring. She came to the Zoo this way and we can’t really be sure what this was caused from. We have always suspected fatty liver disease and have treated it as such. Making sure to add dandelion to her chop, and drastically cut sunflower seeds to a minimal. Her beak is cracked on one side and she had the worst over grown toe nails I had ever seen. Her perches were made from plastic pipes and she had no wood to chew on or file her nails. She was miserable. There was no doubt in my mind, and her misery had turned to aggression. I made her my special case. I made sure to replace her perches immediately, with wood. I gathered pinecones from around the property for her to chew and shred, on top of her new diet. She wasn't fond of being misted but she would tolerate it for about 1 minute before she was over it. I never pushed her farther than I thought she wanted to go. I wanted her to trust me and realize I was only there to help. 

Along the way with Penelope I have asked for advice on the internet. This isn't something I love to do. I hate it really, I hate that you can't ask a simple question online anymore without someone having to comment something completely irrelevant and usually rude. This frustrates me on so many levels. The bird lover community is a small community if you compare it to the dog lover community. We are different kind of people, and with that we should be more understanding towards each other and less judgmental. It goes back to if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. And that’s not to say there isn’t good people. There are amazing people who go out of their way to fully understand the situation and help you however they can. Those are the people I find myself so grateful for. The ones who take their time to help me and teach me the ways to do it. We are all in different circumstances, some better than others. I am not in one of those great situations. They don't sell big awesome cages, or parrot toys. They don't have cool clip on perches or perches made of rope. They have crappy round cages and if you want a perch you better make it yourself. You have to make do with what you have. I'm an active pinecone collector, and I make my own toys out of toilet paper rolls and cardboard. Marley also enjoys my children's toys and they are fine with sharing.

I know some people hear "Mexico" and they automatically think about drug cartels, and violence but there is so much more. And amongst all of that there are beautiful wild parrots, who have been turned into a novelty item here. Captured and sold on the black market to face a lifetime in a small cage eating sunflower seeds. No love, interaction, or toys. Living in a prison until they die alone in that prison. Those are the ones who need help. They need someone to be their voice, someone to help them. 

I spend my Saturdays at the Zoo cleaning bird poop and misting so many birds my fingers get cramped. Why? Because I want to, not because I have to. People also think you can't be a good "parront" if you have small children or a family to care for. I completely disagree with that. I have two boys under the age of 5. One who is currently potty training. Am I busy? Extremely. Do I have time? I find it. How? I involve my family, it’s as simple as that. When I get up Saturday morning to go to the Zoo my family is with me. And not because I make them come, they want to come and be involved. It's easy to involve my children in a simple task like washing bowls with soap and bubbles, or spray the walls with the hose for bird poop. They enjoy doing these things and get a real kick out of it. Does it take more time? Absolutely. I have to monitor them and explain simple tasks three times, but they like to help. They get a feeling of satisfaction knowing they helped the birds that day as well. They are taught at a young age that ALL life matters, big or small. Most people wouldn't want to spend their Saturday cleaning someone else's mess, but as a family we make a day out of it and usually have fun.

In just a short 8 weeks with Penelope I have seen so much change in her attitude. She is the first one I see in the morning when I arrive and that last one I see before I leave. She loves to sing and she blushes when you catch her. She whistles goodbye when she sees me leaving the room. She will shred all the toys I bring her in the morning so that when I come back to say goodbye in the afternoon she guilt’s me into giving her more. She is the reason I go back every Saturday. She gives me hope that with love and attention they can thrive. She needs someone to be her voice, and not just her, everyone else who resides in the Zoo. They had forgotten how beautiful and wonderful life can be, they have only seen a glimpse of a better life. I hope people can see past "Mexico”, and see the innocent souls of parrots in need. They didn't ask to be in this situation, but they're asking for help. One parrot at a time I will make a difference.

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