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Firefighters rescue parrot, owner stuck in tree in Ontario park

An exotic parrot and its owner in Peterborough, Ont., reached new heights that required rescuing from firefighters last week.

Harshil Parikh and his girlfriend often take their pet macaw “Jojo” for a walk without using a cage.

“If I am taking Jojo in the neighbourhood then I do not carry cage with me,” he said. “He likes to sit on my hand and JoJo never flies away.”

That was true — until Canada Day.

Parikh says during an afternoon visit to Beavermead Park with family, he and three-year old JoJo sat further away from the busy crowd near the beach.

“Jojo was happy, comfortable, having his treats,” said Parikh. “But he wasn’t liking if someone is stopping by and talking about him. He is now slowly getting use to it. However, sometimes Jojo doesn’t like it.”

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Parikh says he left the mainly blue-feathered bird with his girlfriend to spend some time flying a kite. However, he says the bird inexplicably “panicked” and suddenly flew high into a nearby dead tree — about 30 to 40 feet high, he estimates.

“I don’t know what triggered him to fly, maybe the kids or a ball,” said Parikh.

JHaril Parikh waits for Peterborough Fire Services to rescue him and his pet macaw Jojo from a tree in Beavermead Park in Peterborough ,Ont., on July 1.

Haril Parikh photo

What unfolded was a five-hour feathery standoff  — as Jojo refused to come down from his newfound perch, despite repeated calls and coaxing from Parikh, his girlfriend and bystanders.

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“Jojo never took this high flight before so he was also scared and got froze there,” Parikh surmised. “He was giving response to my calling but was not confident enough to fly down.”

Parikh also called 911 for Peterborough Fire Services’ help. He says officials initially suggested they wait for Jojo to fly down on its own.

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Not willing to give up so easily, Parkih says his girlfriend tied sticks together using her shoe laces and socks to try to reach the bird. Friends joined their efforts and put together a longer, heavy extendable stick.

“It was heavy to lift it up to that height with one hand and I was also trying maintain my balance on the (bottom of the) tree,” said Parikh. “I put one end of the stick near to Jojo so he could walk on it towards me. Jojo stepped up on it a couple of times but was scared to walk on it.

“At last, my baby found another branch and he walked on it towards me,” he continued. “Now he was so close to me but still couldn’t walk anymore because now the branch was not straight and completely diagonal to the ground.”

Parikh says after nearly five hours, he simply decided to climb up the tree to rescue his bird. He admits he didn’t think about possible injuries, stating he was more concerned about Jojo’s fate.

“I was worried that wild birds will kill him,” he said.

As he was climbing, his girlfriend made another 911 call to the fire department to explain the situation. Parikh eventually reached Jojo’s level and was “so relieved” when his feathery friend returned to his arm.

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There was just one problem — how to get back to the ground safely with Jojo.

“I was so relieved. I had no idea if so many people are looking at me and (asking) how I will come down,” he said. “My girlfriend, my friends, my family, they all were yelling from the ground. They were worried and I didn’t want to disappoint any of them but I also couldn’t ignore Jojo.”

Parikh estimates it was less than 15 minutes when Peterborough Fire Services arrived. Video from the incident shows firefighters who deployed an aerial ladder with a basket with two firefighters who first got Jojo into his cage — though the bird initially resisted — and then Parikh.

The saga ended around 9:15 p.m. Parkih says he’s grateful to the firefighters for efforts to help “get his baby back.”

Global News has reached to the fire department for comment.

When asked if Jojo will visit Beavermead Park again, Parikh said precautions will be taken.

“I will take JoJo out for the walks and to the parks, however, I will be more careful when I take him outside and not leave his side even for a second,” said Parikh.

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