It was just routine for Lincolnshire Wildlife Park to give a home to an African Grey parrot.
In fact, in the same week, they actually took in five — named Billy, Elsie, Jade, Tyson and Eric. Naturally, the birds were put in quarantine together. Unfortunately, one of the parrots was rather more streetwise than the others.
As we all know from this year of lockdowns and restrictions, enforced quarantine is a rather boring business and one needs something to pass the time. So Billy — the potty-mouthed parrot — decided to teach the others some fowl, er foul, language.
Soon all five birds were swearing like troopers. The more the staff laughed, the worse the parrots’ language became, encouraged as they were by the reactions they were eliciting. Worse, they were not only swearing at the park’s customers but laughing about it too.
‘It got to be like an old working men’s club scenario where they’re all just laughing and swearing,’ said Steve Nichols, the park’s chief executive.
But the swearing parrots aren’t the first to make a scene at the park.
Earlier in the year, a video went viral showing one of its parrots, Chico, belting out Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy. Chico’s five minutes of fame have been rather longer: he now has his own Instagram page with almost 8,000 followers.
The problem was that people turning up to hear a singing parrot were getting instead an earful of quite something else as the profaning parrots put their newfound talent on display.
Eventually, with a weekend looming and lots of children expected the park had no option but to separate the foul-mouthed birds and place them, as far as possible, out of earshot.
‘At least if they do swear,’ Steve explained, ‘it’s not as bad as three or four of them all blasting it out at once.’
The problem wasn’t just the birds swearing at the patrons but the patrons swearing at the birds: ‘‘It is quite an unusual place where you are walking around and people are swearing at aviaries trying to get a parrot to swear back at them!’ said Steve.
Seriously though, if the parrots are swearing, it might be for good reason. This is 2020 after all, so maybe they’re just commenting on the current mood.