Casper joins aviary

BY JEFF TOLLAN
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2009
Merle Patrick, of Temuka, at the town's aviary
JEFF TOLAN
NEW MATES: Casper the cockatoo introduced himself to several new-found friends yesterday, including Merle Patrick, of Temuka, at the town's aviary.

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Life at the Temuka aviary is a little more colourful and noisy now, with several new additions to the avian echelons including one clever cockatoo.

He was one of several new birds welcomed yesterday by a crowd of about 20 people.

The aviary lost 32 birds in an attack this month for which three men have been arrested.

While his mates were still safely in their boxes, the cockatoo, Casper, spent the time perched on the arms or necks of his welcoming committee.

His owner, Chris Borrie, of Oamaru, said he would be sad to see the bird go, though he was certain Casper would make a good impression at the aviary.

"He and the cat got on reasonably well together. They would sit down in front of the fire together, but he's certainly the boss when it comes to other animals," Mr Borrie said.

Casper, 18, can also talk, imitate cats fighting (and has about three different dog barks), will dance to certain kinds of music and used to accompany Mr Borrie when he went for a walk.

"He just sat on your arm or shoulder and would go for a walk with you. Charlie, the guy who used to own him, would take him everywhere."

Timaru Bird Club vice-president Pat Rule yesterday praised the public's support.

"It's been fantastic, overwhelming, really," he said. "We will end up with possibly more birds than we had at the start."

Air New Zealand was flying in 14 more birds, at no charge, tomorrow. Those birds were gifted by the Napier council.

Other birds, like Casper, had been bought by the bird club through public donations.

Three Temuka men are jointly accused of breaking into the aviary and wilfully ill-treating the birds causing them to die.

Simiona Paul John, Jonathan Ramon Douglas Fleming and Luke Michael Kirkcaldie have entered no plea and will return to court on September 15.

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- The Timaru Herald

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