Parrot petting

Parrot petting

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Lai Wing-Wan
Photo: Lai Wing-Yan

They are smart, live up to 60 years and easier to look after than most other animals, writes Zoe Mak

Parrots are becoming increasingly popular as pets and lifelong partners for Hongkongers.

Paul Lee Kee-kee, president of Hong Kong International Parrot Association, says more locals are raising parrots because they live much longer than common pets like fish and dogs.

'They can be a lifelong partner because they can live up to 60 years,' he says. 'They love to interact with humans and can be more communicative than dogs.'

Lee explains that parrots do not have to spend their entire lives in cages, and love to talk and play with humans.

He says although pet parrots are becoming more popular, they are not easy to come across and are usually quite expensive, especially when it comes to macaws, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He says smaller breeds like love birds are more popular in Hong Kong because they require less space.

Lee has had many pets - fish, cats, dogs and even snakes - but now he has settled for 19 small parrots, including African greys, cockatoos and love birds.

'When I had coral fish, I had to spend a lot of time taking care of them and ended up having very little time to enjoy being with them, but parrots are much easier to take care of and I can spend a lot more time with them.

'You can't force a parrot to do anything. But you can motivate them to learn new things such as dancing, if you dance with them and show them know how fun it can be,' he says.

But Lee warns that parrots are attention seekers. If neglected, they could indulge in self-destructive, attention-seeking behaviour, such as pulling out their feathers.

Lai Wing-yan, who owns two newly-wedded Macaws, says she has a friend whose parrot died a tragic death.

'He was the centre of the attention at first, but when the family bought other pets, he was left alone. He started picking at his own feathers until he was almost completely bald, and he died later,' she says.

Lai says she learned a lesson from the incident and tries to spend as much time as possible with her macaws despite having four dogs.

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