strange behaviors

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  • Richard Conniff writes about behavior, in humans and other animals, on two, four, six, and eight legs, plus the occasional slither.

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The Megalopolitan Parrot

Posted by Richard Conniff on September 21, 2010

Polishing Pedro's vocabularly

Today’s Wall Street Journal eulogizes an eccentric Des Moines zookeeper named Bob Elgin.  I liked this part:

When Pedro, the zoo’s macaw, became notorious for spouting profanity it learned from workmen at the zoo, Mr. Elgin gave him a cleaned-up vocabulary by reading to him from Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the West.”

“He’s the most erudite parrot in the world,” including words like transcendental and megalopolitan, Mr. Elgin boasted in an article published nationally.

But I suspect the late Mr. Elgin would not meet the standards of modern zookeeping:

When the zoo experienced vandalism, he set loose the big cats to patrol the zoo grounds at night. He put up a sign on the front gate that read “Trespassers Will Be Eaten,” but told the Associated Press that the animals wouldn’t actually eat intruders, but just “knock them down until help comes.”


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