Potty-Mouthed Parrots Who Let Unfastened on Park Guests to Return to View
LONDON – When Steve Nichols, the executive director of Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, heard staff cursing loudly in the next room, he went over to betray them.
But there were no employees in the next room. Just the birds.
Then he found that five parrots that moved to the park that same week had an unfortunate quality: they all had dirty, dirty mouths.
The African gray parrots – Billy, Elsie, Eric, Jade, and Tyson – had a more colorful language than a plumage and used different swear words with different British accents, but all were not printable gross. At one point, a group of women walking past the aviary believed the indecent comments were from a hidden worker, Nichols said.
The park had no complaints – in fact, visitors were about to swear by the birds again – but park officials feared children and parents might not enjoy the experience as much, he said. The chirping birds have been moved to a temporary space out of the public eye to give them time to hang out with more family-friendly birds and hopefully clean up their vocabulary.
The birds are expected to be released back to the main colony on Wednesday after their time was removed for bad behavior.
A major problem with parrot language is that it is funny.
“When a parrot swears, it is very difficult for other people not to laugh,” he said. “And when we laugh, that’s a positive answer. And that’s why they learn to laugh as well as the curse word. “
“It’s not that bad with one on your own,” he continued. “But when you have five together, when one swears and another laughs and another laughs before you know it, it sounds like a group of teenagers or an old workers club.”
One parrot in particular had a bad mouth and said, “Billy is the worst.”
The birds arrived at the park in late August from five different owners across the UK, about 130 miles north of London. Each owner apologized that their pet might have picked up a select few words, Mr Nichols said.
They were among about 20 birds that arrived that same week and were quarantined together for a week. (The others behaved well.) Parrots are usually calm the first time they are brought out in public. The staff therefore considered it safe to take them outside.
It was not. When Mr. Nichols first gathered visitors outside the aviary, he thought they were there to see Chico, who gained little fame that month for learning to sing Beyoncé’s “If I Was A Boy”. Instead he saw the parrots and the guests brutally cursing each other.
After the birds are removed from the public exhibits, come some guests who have heard of the vulgar birds but do not know which cage they are in. So they made it their business to scold all the birds in the hopes that ‘I’m going to get some abuse back, said Mr Nichols.
The breakout of ease was needed, said Mr Nichols. The park had to close for 20 weeks to contain the coronavirus pandemic and it was financially hammered. And the center has taken in more birds than ever before. Parrot owners who work from home suddenly find that they have forced their pets to spend too much time in cages.
Parrots can pick up commonly used words from their owners and mimic the sounds even if they cannot understand the meanings. The park occasionally welcomes bad-mouthed birds, but having five in the same week was “the most amazing coincidence,” said Nichols.
Swearing isn’t usually a big problem, he said – while parrots keep the memory of the naughty words, they usually adapt their behavior to the larger colony, which most paying customers don’t give unpronounceable names. Mr. Nichols expects them to do their best.
“You probably have really good vocabulary too,” he said. “It’s just that we only heard the curse words.”