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African Grey Parrot Stolen From Flamingo Gardens

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DAVIE (CBSMiami) -- There is a parrot snatcher on the loose in South Florida. Intruders broke into the courtyard of Flamingo Gardens over the weekend and stole an African Grey parrot named Snappy.

The 35-year old African Grey male has, lived at the botanical gardens and wildlife sanctuary since his owner surrendered him 15 years ago. 

CLICK HERE To Watch Joan Murray's Report 

The thief is thought to have scaled the fence, cut the bird's enclosure, and captured the parrot sometime after 11:00 pm Saturday night.

Laura Wyatt, Curator of Wildlife at Flamingo Gardens, said "it looks like they tried wire cutters and when they couldn't do that ended bending it." 

By the looks of his red tail feathers on the ground, Snappy resisted. 

"Probably the struggle of trying to catch him," said Wyatt.

She hopes that Snappy was taken by someone who genuinely wants him and will give him a good home, and not by someone who plans to sell him.

"He's not a particularly social bird, and has been living here happy and comfortable for so long, it pains me to think of him stressed out in a small or crowded cage waiting to be sold," said Wyatt. 

Wyatt took snappy into the wildlife sanctuary 15 years ago when the owners surrendered him. She said while he doesn't talk all that much, Snappy can carry a tune.

"He was raised in an office building so he gives that little 'beep'.....he can whistle the stars and stripes and a wolf whistle," said Wyatt.  

In the US, the only birds that are allowed to be legally sold are those that have been hatched and raised in captivity. With increased regulation, the price of parrots have risen and the illegal bird trade has become a big problem in Florida.

Congo African Greys come from the Ghana region of Africa and are the more rare of African Grey Parrots. The predominantly grey, black-billed parrot, with a bright red tail, is prized for its ability to mimic human speech and can fetch up between $1,000 and $1,500 in pet stores and on the black market.

Ultimately, Flamingo Gardens is hoping that Snappy will be returned, but wants to use this opportunity to educate the public about responsible bird ownership.

"Parrots live a very long time and are a big commitment." said Wyatt. "Just like dogs and cats, thousands of parrots are relinquished by their owners each year, so we encourage people to do their research first. If they decide that a parrot is the right pet for them, buy only from a reputable dealer, or better yet, adopt from a bird rescue center like Florida Parrot Rescue."

 Tour guide John Brugos says Snappy was like family.

"I know him from teasing me all the time because I handled group tours.  I would hear what I thought was the bus arriving and it was the bird.  The screeching sound of the tires was dead on."

If you have any information which may lead to the return of Snappy, please call Flamingo Gardens at (954) 473-2955 or call police.


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