Violence is never a welcome topic of discussion. However, when one of our great birds survives nearly impossible odds after experiencing violence, then someone has to tip a hat to the survivor. In this case, it is a sulphur-crested cockatoo now named Mr. Cocky due to his survival strength and resilience after being shot five times with an air rifle. And not just one rifle — Mr. Cocky was attacked by two different rifles and lived to tell us about it.
Mr. Cocky, who lives in Sydney, Australia, was taken to a local Avian, Reptile, & Exotic Pet Hospital (AREPH) in the city by a good person who found the injured bird in a backyard. (Sulphur-crested cockatoos are native to Australia and can be found in large numbers in some areas in the wild.) The exotic bird was experiencing extreme difficulty moving his wing.
Radiographs were taken, and the hospital surgeons were surprised to find five lead bullets lodged deeply within the bird. One was a horrifying head shot lodged about a tenth of an inch from the cockatoo’s eye. Mr. Cocky was also shot in the shoulder of his left wing. The other three bullets lodged within the bird’s chest. After extensive tests, it was determined to not attempt any removal of the bullets as the trauma might be detrimental to the bird’s already reduced health. It was determined that the bullets would not impact his quality of life.
The hospital’s medical staff opted to use physiotherapy to rehabilitate and bring full movement back to the bird’s left wing. The hope is that Mr. Cocky responds positively to the non-surgical therapy and will be able to return to the wild without complications.
The staff at the hospital mentioned that Mr. Cocky is a rare creature who would otherwise have died from the assault. Not only did Mr. Cocky survive five pellets, with one to the head, but he did it with such verve that he even survived an evaluation by the hospital that decides the course of medical action by a “triage.” This triage decides the possibility of a creature’s ability to safely return to the wild. If the injuries are found to be such that a return is impossible, then it is euthanized. Mr. Cocky defied all the cards that were dealt to him and should be able to resume a normal life.
Fortunately, this hostility is a crime under the Biodiversity Conservation Act of 2016. Under the important multi-part protection, this shooting could net the perpetrators of this vicious and terrible crime a jail sentence of up to 2 to 5 years and a hefty fine of up to $22,000 dollars, and potentially more. It is hoped they become identified and face the full penalty of the law.
We’re immensely proud of Mr. Cocky and his will to live. Hang in there, big guy!