Birds of Eden the largest free flight bird aviary in the world, Plettenberg Bay Garden Route Adventures South Africa
Birds of Eden the largest free flight bird aviary in the world, Plettenberg Bay Garden Route Adventures South Africa
Birds of Eden the largest free flight bird aviary in the world, Plettenberg Bay Garden Route Adventures South Africa

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We met Meisie or Cappie - as she is also called in 1988, when she was just a young girl of 15 years. Her previous owner, an old lady whom Meisie loved tremendously, passed away and Meisie was sold to a rather unscrupulous pet shop owner, by the family members. 

My father promptly put an offer in for her as he couldn’t stand her living in a small cage in the pet shop. I have to add here that the bird trade, in my opinion, is inhumane and incredibly cruel and should be banned, and even though it was considered an act of kindness to rescue her, it probably stimulated trade in a certain way.Well,  Meisie loved her new residence – a farm garden with the highest trees possible, but was wary of attaching herself to anyone but my father and I.  In 1994, Meisie moved with us to Potchefstroom and yet again, lived amongst the trees. It was here that Meisie was caught by a passerby and held in a small cage for a few days in a bachelor flat in town.  After a lot of detective work and convincing the police, we eventually found a rather unhappy bird and bitten thief.

In 2000, Meisie moved to Pretoria to stay with me as my parents separated.  It was at this time that she met Nugget – a young sprite of only a few weeks (this is where her love for young ‘uns most probably developed….). During this time, she had another brush with the law – again on the right side – our little bird of justice: as burglars attempted to move her night stand in front of the door, she nibbed of a finger tip of an unfortunate soul.  The police found this very entertaining as they did not need any fingerprints – they had a finger… not a girl to be meddled with.  The story did its rounds amongst the force and we had a stream of interested members coming to “gawk” at the feathered crime fighter.

Unfortunately the space (and neighbours) in Pretoria was not as accommodating as her previous homes, and with too few trees and shrubs to keep her entertained, she increasingly became bored and frustrated. At this time, a cage became an unfortunate choice – and Meisie’s evenings, and some days were spent enclosed.  This broke my heart, and I am sure created the context for her aggressive and jealous behaviour.  When Alexander was born, he was seen as direct competition and focus of her anger culminating in her protecting her nest against the crawling baby – violently. 

I knew it was time to find her a better home – or risk losing more fingers (thankfully Alexander’s was re-attached by a competent surgeon).  I contacted Birds in 2004 and Tony and Lara were kind enough to accommodate her.  Tony took us on a tour of Birds as the building was in progress, and I knew it was the right place for her.  And indeed, it was the best decision for her, I however, still sometimes miss her very much, and every visit to Birds od Eden is accompanied by tears.  But it was a rational choice, one I do not regret. 

Written by Sunica Schreiner

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