Local rescue parrot Rocco, an African Grey, has become a media sensation when a story went viral about his affinity with his foster carer’s Alexa.
Rocco came to the Trindledown NAWT animal rescue and rehoming centre at Great Shefford last Autumn and was soon fostered by junior animal care leader, Marion Wischnewski.
Rocco had impressed staff at the centre with his extraordinary vocabulary and mimicking skills but after going to his new home cheeky Rocco really excelled himself when he started placing orders using Marion’s Alexa!
“I soon realised I have to check the shopping list when I come in from work and cancel all the items he’s ordered,” explains Marion. “So far I’ve had to remove a light bulb, some berries, a kite, ice-cream, a well, strawberries, fuses, butter, dogs, a knife, bin bags, a water melon, hair, raisins, broccoli, water, a man and Ryan (whoever that is).”
Rocco Goes Viral
“One of my staff has a press background, “ explained centre manager Tracy Waldron, “So she sent the story to the Newbury Weekly News hoping it might get picked up by the nationals.
“To say it did is an understatement! Within 48 hours it was the top story on websites all over the world, from Germany to Taiwan. At one point, the day after the story broke, we were the top trending story on Fox News in America.”
Marion and Rocco have been in constant demand by newspapers, radio and TV shows since the story broke.
“It’s all been a bit of a blur,” said Marion. “We have been very surprised by just how far the story has gone and I’ve lost count of all the people I’ve spoken to. It’s been completely surreal. This morning an old school friend contacted me from Germany to say I was in the German press.
“Rocco has coped very well on the whole but we did have to call time on a shoot a couple of days ago as he was beginning to get stressed. It was just so long. The photographers were trying to get him to do things and I could see that he’d had enough. He had started shaking and he pulled a couple of feathers out so I decided that was enough. Nobody’s stressing my little man!”
“As Rocco says himself “I’ll call you back later!”.”
Manager Tracy hopes the coverage will initiate further interest in the animal centre and bring in donations, but there have been downsides as well dealing with all the press.
“Some members of the press managed to get hold of Marion’s home phone number, “ she explained “so we had to put a call screening system in place and she couldn’t answer her mobile.
“Also – because Rocco doesn’t perform well to strangers it was quite hard to get the footage we needed for the press. In the end we had to install a secret camera. We were also a bit concerned that some of the journalists had ‘coloured’ the story to make it sound like we had actually thrown Rocco out of the centre because of his bad language. Nothing could have been further from the truth! We will continue to look after Rocco all his life, like all the animals we help.”
Trindledown NAWT Animal Welfare Centre
If you would like to find out about all the characterful animals living at Trindledown, many of whom are looking for forever homes, please contact them at nawt.org.uk/centres/berkshire
If you like animals and working with friendly people in a peaceful, outdoor environment, Trindledown is always looking for volunteers. For more details, pop in to see them any day or call them on 01488 638584