I love a good zoo, but as this is Thailand I'll settle for a crappy one with depressingly cramped cages and inhumane shows in which malnourished animals are forced to perform inappropriate feats for the amusement of braying crowds.
I've unintentionally patronised my share of animal rights atrocities in this country, such as guys beating the crap out of crocodiles, elephants forced to fight and play football (those were the same place, that's good value) and tigers jumping through rings of fire, but this time was different. These parrots weren't having any of it, and watching their flustered handlers struggle to fill the dead air as the stars refused to open compartments, overturn bowls and pick numbers off a board was like being in an amusingly awkward scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm. The animals were fighting back in the most effective way they could without subsequently being destroyed - by making their handlers look like complete knobs.
If only they were chickens, I could make a quality pun about them staging a coup/coop that would also bag me a few extra searches by people looking for a slightly out of date Thailand keyword, but unfortunately they had to be beautiful macaws instead. Even more regrettably, they started doing what they were told after a while, presumably following a few 'stern discussions' backstage. Those bruised wings will heal in no time.
Phuket Bird Park
A childish day out again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again again. An irrelevant Native American theme continues Thailand's commendable track record for being pointlessly provocative
There was less to this place than Davao Crocodile Farm, which I went to a couple of weeks earlier, but there was also more of a focus on the actual animals rather than facsimiles for visitors to pose next to. That might say something about Filipinos' greater vanity and reduced interest in nature
Welcome to low season
Oh dear, that's not right is it? Try to discern which board your trainer is waggling a tasty treat behind more accurately next time. I don't know how they actually do it, but I know it has nothing to do with a bird doing sums, or it wouldn't have failed three times
I was harangued into being a parrot's psychic psubject, probably because the trick involved guessing my age and I was the only young-ish male in the small audience, and therefore least likely to be offended if the bird strayed towards the high numbers
He needed to take a good look at my face to help him make his prediction. By which I mean they made a parrot nod spasmodically in front of me beak-to-beak for about a minute while it daydreamed of the free life it used to enjoy before the big net took it all away. It was quite funny on my end, and a little bit intimidating
Well, how about that? I was genuinely impressed
Being something of a sceptic when it comes to the ability of birds to be psychic and capable of comprehending Arabic numerals, I was mainly impressed that I couldn't work out exactly how it was done.
I mean, beyond there obviously being a system of signals between the guy next to me who took a quick glance at what I wrote down before I closed the pad (or someone with a view from behind), the bird's trainer and the feathered star himself, but I didn't need to know more than that and I was happy I didn't.
It was a privilege to be taken in by the one part of the show that actually bloody worked, and left me feeling a bit like how the bamboozled subjects of Derren Brown might feel. Though in this case it was Derren Blue and Yellow with a Green Top of Head and Black and White Bits
They love cleaning up your shit.
Take note, lazy littering Asians - even an otter can do it