The audience listened intently last night as one of The Park’s most famous novelists spoke candidly about his struggle to escape life as the pet of a famous Human.
Hercule Parrot, 2012 Chitter Radio Literary Award winner and part-time mentor at BirdBrains, The Park’s first Avian mentoring programme, alternated between the emotional and the entertaining as he described his daily life in a “gilded cage.”
“Everything was made available to me. Everything I needed, I was given…food, company, friends, toys…I lacked for nothing, except for autonomy and the ability to live my life as I wanted to, in a truly free and Avian way.”
Holding court at the Tartan Crab Memorial Pond during the last scheduled event held in conjunction with Enforced Domestication Awareness Month, Parrot mesmerized his audience of thousands, regaling them with tales of treats, grooming sessions, voyages to exotic locations, movie offers and more.
Parrot made it clear, however, that it was not a life he would have chosen for himself nor would he recommend it to any Animal. Calling it “wholly unnatural,” he warned his listeners not to succumb to the idea of “the easy way.”
“The easy way is tempting, but it is not as easy a life as it sounds,” he said.
“Living with Humans usually means you do not go hungry for food. But the hunger for your natural way of life, for Animal companionship, for the ability to direct your own life, that is something you hunger for every day. Not a day went by that I wasn’t plotting my escape, planning the route I would take from that hand that fed me to freedom.”
Although speaking to a largely anti-Human audience, Parrot did not downplay the role of emotional attachment in the domestication process and spoke openly about the sense of guilt he felt when he finally fled the Human who had domesticated him.
“It’s a myth that you can live in a domestic situation — even an enforced one — and not have feelings for your keeper. And that attachment is difficult to break. Many times, I berated myself for it and wondered if I truly desired freedom. But my reluctance to leave really was due, in part, to the attachment that I felt toward my Human keeper,” he said.
Eventually, Parrot did escape and made his way to The Park, where he has resided for more than two decades. He credits The Park’s “outstanding” refugee services with his ability to find happiness in his new community. And, though he has not had any contact with his ex-keeper, he says he thinks about him almost every day.
“Enforced domestication stays with you for life. It affects everything you do, everything you think, every way you react. You take a certain sadness with you everywhere you go. That’s just the way it is and that is the reason we must be vigilant and prevent its occurrence as much as possible,” he said.