Housebound mum in plea for return of her pet parrot
A single mum, housebound through chronic illness, has been left heartbroken after her beloved pet parrot escaped.
Zissou flew out of his Newry home last Sunday evening when the hatch to his cage was unlocked and the front door was left open.
The brightly-coloured bird has been living with Ann Smith at her home on the Old Rathfriland Road for almost four years.
Ann (40) reared Zissou since he was 12 weeks old, and when she had to stop working through illness, the bird was her ever-present sidekick.
"I'm just heartbroken, I'm so upset," she said.
"Now he's gone, it's so quiet without him, eerily quiet. Our home feels very empty without him, he's such a big character.
"He would always have been singing and chirping away on my shoulder, saying 'hello' and 'yum yum'."
Zissou is a Senegal parrot, more usually found in west Africa. But they are one of the most common breeds to be kept as pets.
Zissou's opportunistic break for freedom has left Ann concerned about her cherished pet's safety.
She said: "It was an accident. He has never been outside flying before, so that was probably very overwhelming. He flew out the door and disappeared. We lost sight of him almost immediately."
Ann has lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells.
Every day she suffers from severe arthritic pain in her joints, chronic fatigue and nausea from all of her medication. It means Ann spends a lot of time in her home, and now she misses the cheerful parrot who lifted her mood.
"If anything happens to him I don't know what I will do. He's a very much-loved family pet.
"Parrots bond very strongly with one person, and I've a very strong bond with him. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't do anything since he's gone."
Ann is hopeful that Zissou is safe and warm, being cared for by another parrot lover, but she is offering a reward for the return of her bird.
"Anyone who does have him please bring him in. They don't know how much it would mean," she pleaded.
"I've been told that after about three days the parrot will try to go to a person because it will be that hungry. I'm hoping someone has taken him in.
"Zissou is very tame and can be approached. If anyone does see him, if they hold out a hand and say 'step up' he will walk onto your hand."
But more than a week after Zissou went missing, Ann is also worried that the parrot may not be in safety.
"My main concern is that there are lots of birds of prey about. I'm worried about one of them going for him."
Ann has urged anyone who spots the bird to bring him to the USPCA or a vet in Newry.