You know how it is when you travel – you always have high expectations of the perfect trip, planned down to every detail.
But there are always those inevitable rude people we have to share our space with, who often can’t seem to keep their mouths shut.
Such is the case in a little park in England where a group of crude visitors have caused an uproar among tourists and staff. But they aren’t like anyone you’ve ever encountered in your travels.
Like just about every other place dependent on tourism for survival, Lincolnshire Wildlife Park — a little over a hundred miles outside of London as the crow flies — has taken a brutal financial hit due to pandemic restrictions.
The park had to close its doors for nearly five months, and Brits greatly missed the opportunity to see its exotic animals, including one of the largest parrot sanctuaries in England.
Just like here in the U.S., locals were stuck at home for an extended period of time during quarantine. But so were their pets.
Their owners were busy with Zoom meetings or – killing two birds with one stone and binge-watching their favorite show while binge-eating contactless delivery.
There wasn’t much to do but walk the dog for a few minutes each day and apparently shout obscenities at the TV news – or at each other – as they watched all the craziness of this year unfold.
This Pandemic Is For the Birds
Not every pet had the luxury of going out for a stroll to escape the boredom – or get away from annoying owners who used to go to work.
Exotic birds are especially popular pets in the U.K., but you can imagine the difficulty of being locked in a cage all day while your owner watches bawdy English humor on the telly.
Sure, these colorful companions were allowed to roam the room every so often for some cage-free time, but it just wasn’t enough.
Some of these fine feathered friends finally had enough after several weeks of quarantine – so if their owners weren’t going to leave, then they would.
Back at the wildlife park, staff members who were permitted to leave home to care for the animals started to notice they had a few new residents.
In the span of a week, around 20 parrots arrived at Lincolnshire and started hobnobbing with the other birds who had flown the coop of their confinement.
It leaves one to wonder if there’s not some secret parrot code that led to a well-hatched plot to break out of their confines and fly free as God intended. I think this pandemic has left us all feeling a little like that.
When these parrot strangers arrived at the park, they were welcomed by staff, but also put into quarantine together so they did not spread any kind of bird version of COVID among the longtime residents of the aviary.
They seemed to get along, and they seemed to like where they had landed, so they were eventually allowed to become part of the public sanctuary when locals were able to visit Lincolnshire again.
Polly Want a… WHAT?!!!
Steve Nichols, the CEO of the wildlife park, was making his usual rounds one day when he overheard a conversation between employees. He couldn’t believe his ears.
But when he turned the corner to admonish – and possibly fire – the lewd offenders, he found not park staff, but the new feathered tenants of the aviary exchanging a few choice words.
That’s when he realized a fascinating coincidence. The five feathered friends had all arrived within the same week. They were all African Grey Parrots. And they all had the filthiest mouths he’d ever heard.
Coincidence or planned parrot plot for escape? You be the judge.
Picking up human behaviors is nothing new for many animals. That’s why we love them – we can relate to them, it’s funny when they mimic us, and they usually don’t talk back – unlike our human offspring.
Longtime parrot resident Chico, in fact, has his own Instagram account because he likes to sing to park guests. He’s a huge fan of Beyonce.
But these new birds didn’t have music on their dirty minds – they talked back to each other and to human visitors in a manner that would get a man jailed for indecency.
In fact, a group of ladies passing by the aviary were met with a slew of inexcusable, probably illegal, comments that they first thought were coming from unsavory male park staffers.
Word got around that the birds liked to um, “compliment,” the ladies or insult others who walked past their exhibit.
And people literally flocked to hear and see the spectacle for themselves.
Billy, Elsie, Eric, Jade, and Tyson like to say varying offensive phrases in different British accents to anyone who walks by, and park staff say Billy is the worst. He curses like a sailor, leading us to believe he may have once been a pirate parrot who had just about enough of the high seas.
It’s no surprise that the parrots have been attracting quite a following. We don’t often hear animals talk to us, and when they say really bad stuff, it’s all the more entertaining.
Visitors to the park sunk to the parrots’ level and starting shouting profanities back at the bad birds, so much so that staff had to give the birds a time-out from being on public display to spare the ears of the very young and very old who probably wouldn’t appreciate their language.
Still, visitors can’t get enough and continue to shout obscenities around the park in the hopes of hearing a catcall or curse word back.
Since staff didn’t disclose which cages the Gang of Five were currently residing in during their time-out, you can just imagine a scene of parkgoers walking around eagerly cursing at any tree or enclosure they passed by.
Just like with children, the parrots loved the attention. The more guests laughed at their “fowl” language, the more the parrots were lewd and crude. More laughs, more dirty language — a vicious cycle that was hilarious, to say the least.
And like children, sometimes a bad parrot just needs a good role model.
The park came up with the idea of housing the incorrigible gang with some of their more well-behaved peeps, hoping they’d take the profane group under their wing and teach them proper park etiquette and expand their limited, vulgar vocabulary.
If they learn their lesson and clean up their language, the park is looking to release them back into the main colony soon.
But you know what happens when you’ve touched fame, even for a fleeting moment. You can’t get enough of the spotlight, and you’ll do anything to be on top again.
Only time will tell if these birds will go back to their dirty ways or take like a duck to water with their behavior modification.
Park staff have since taken in more birds who have escaped the cages of their owners.
But it’s all a little coincidental to me that all of these birds have broken out of their cages and arrived at the same destination around the same time.
They’re smart animals, and like us, they don’t like to have their freedoms taken away either.
I have a few choice words of my own to describe this year, and I’d probably get along well with Billy and the gang.
Someday in the U.K., someone will be doing some remodeling, and I’m convinced they’ll find a network of little parrot tunnels and messages clawed on the walls as they made their plan for escape ala The Shawshank Redemption.
You made it, Billy and friends. Keep your beaks up and don’t let the turkeys get you down.