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News of the Weird

Wednesday July 10, 2002

Annoying parrot on the loose 


TACOMA, Wash. — Gail and Bill Brooks hope whoever stole their parrot is annoyed enough with his noise to be having second thoughts. 

The owners of the Pet Pavilion have collected nearly $3,000 to offer as a reward for the return of Bonzo, a 10-year-old African gray parrot they raised from birth and brought with them when they moved from Florida. 

Bonzo, less than a foot tall and worth about $2,000, vanished from the Brooks’ emergency animal care and boarding operation June 23 while they were on vacation in Hawaii. 

African grays are not rare and have a typical lifespan of 50 years in captivity and 75 years in the wild. Bonzo is uncommonly noisy, Gail Brooks said. 

“Whoever stole him is probably getting tired of him asking, ‘Where’s Bill?”’ she said. “It really is like having a child in the house when he’s here.” 

Bonzo readily sings a version of the song “Bingo” using his own name and squawks “Bonzo pretty, Bonzo smart” and “Night, night” at bedtime. 

Other routines include “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too” from the “Wizard of Oz” and “A parrot’s life for me” from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. 


No fans allowed at this game  


CHARLESTON, S.C. — The starting pitcher said it felt like playing in a cemetery. It was so quiet he could hear the beer and peanut vendors in the stands. 

The Charleston Riverdogs lost 4-2 to the Columbus RedStixx on Monday night as the Class A Tampa Bay Devil Rays affiliate padlocked the gates and kept hundreds of fans outside Joe Riley Stadium. 

This was “Nobody Night” — a promotion designed to set the record for professional baseball’s lowest attendance. 

“I understood what was going on, but you know, a couple of guys said, ’We’re professional athletes, it kind of stinks not to have fans there the whole time cheering you on,”’ Riverdogs pitcher John Vigue said. 

Only reporters, scouts and employees were allowed into the game. Fans were turned away and sent just outside the ballpark to a party where discounted food and beer were offered. 

Hundreds gathered outside the main gate, waiting to come in once the game was declared official after the fifth inning and the attendance was recorded as zero. 


Dogs, lamps not
the same as kids


HARRISBURG, Pa. — No matter how much some people treat their pets like children, the law doesn’t allow a divorced couple to have joint custody of a dog, a state appeals court ruled. 

Anthony DeSanctis worked out an agreement with Lynda Hurley Pritchard when they divorced in 2000 that dealt mostly with the future of Barney, a dog Pritchard had gotten from an animal shelter two months before the couple separated in 1996. 

The agreement said the dog was Pritchard’s, but set up an arrangement that allowed DeSanctis to visit him, according to court records. 

In March of 2000, however, Pritchard moved from Chester County to Bucks County and no longer made Barney available for DeSanctis to visit. 

In a decision released Friday, the Pennsylvania Superior Court agreed with the Chester County Court of Common Pleas that the law cannot treat the dog like a child. 

“Despite the status owners bestow on their pets, Pennsylvania law considers dogs to be personal property,” Justice Frank J. Montemuro wrote. 

He said he agreed with the trial courts that DeSanctis was seeking a court order that is “analogous, in law, to a visitation schedule for a table or a lamp.” 

The court noted that DeSanctis still had a legal recourse: He could sue for breach of contract, but all he could get would be the dog’s monetary value.