Five Parrots Separated After Encouraging One Another to Curse at Zoo Visitors
Despite being cursed at, none of the British zoo’s visitors complained, and most found them amusing. Welcome to 2020.
Only two types of animals can speak the human language. Do you know what they are? If you guessed birds and humans, you are spot on. Good day. Today, I look forward to sharing a funny story about English parrots with you, ones who delight in swearing. First, some background.
Parrots telling folks to f*** off is something that adds to the surrealism of 2020. Today we turn to this odd tale from the United Kingdom. But first, I want to provide a bit of background about these remarkable birds.
As you know, most birds cannot imitate human speech. But, a subset can. These include:
- mynah birds
Parrots learn vocally. They learn sounds by hearing and then imitating them. But how? A 2015 research study offers some answers. Duke University (USA) neuroscientist Erich Jarvis explains that:
“Any bird that’s a vocal learner has a part of the brain devoted to this, called the ‘song system.’ But in parrots, the song system has two layers — an inner ‘core,’ common to all avian vocal learners, and an outer ‘shell,’ which is unique to parrots. Jarvis thinks that this recently discovered ‘shell’ is what allows parrots to be such expert mimickers (though he hasn’t figured out exactly how it works yet).”
Scientists believe that birds copy human language because of peer pressure. The birds want to fit in with other members of their flock. Harvard researcher Irene Pepperberg has long probed the intelligence of an African Grey parrot named Alex. She adds this perspective: “A single bird in the wild is a dead bird; It can’t look for food and look for predators at the same time,” — but in a flock, they can trade off responsibilities.
Parrots in a human household will attempt to integrating as though the people were part of its flock. You will soon see the relevance of this observation.
African gray parrots and naughty language
Did you hear about the British parrots that had to be separated because they would not stop swearing at visitors? Caretakers at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Centre’s wildlife sanctuary recently separated five parrots, moving them from the outdoor aviary. Why? The birds would not stop swearing at patrons. Moreover, the birds encouraged one another to curse.
The culprits are named Billy, Eric, Elsie, Jade, and Tyson. They are (or rather, were) in a colony of two hundred gray parrots. Having been quarantined, the chatty five soon overwhelmed the sanctuary staff with foul language. While parrots typically control their language when outside, these five are atypical, appearing to enjoy speaking obscenities thoroughly.
The parrots swear to get a reaction from an observer. The center's leader offers:
“We are quite used to parrots swearing, but we’ve never had five at the same time. Most parrots clam up outside, but for some reason, these five relish it.”
He adds that:
“None of the zoo’s visitors complained about the parrots, and most found them amusing.
According to Nichols, none of the zoo’s visitors complained about the parrots, and most found them amusing.
“When a parrot tells you to ‘f*** off,’ it amuses people very highly,” he said. “It’s brought a big smile to a tough year.”
Still, keepers thought it would be best to keep them away from children so as not to ruffle any feathers. They were separated and moved to various wildlife center areas, so they could not provoke each other.
When the five birds were together, one would swear, and then another bird would laugh. The wildlife center chief hopes that the parrots will learn a better language within new colonies. The alternative? Two hundred and fifty swearing birds.
I hope you are smiling, and that you have a joy-filled day.