Two parakeets decide to have a day out, keeping zoo-keepers on their toes

They deal with temperamental carnivores, have to be in the vicinity of gaurs and bears weighing over a tonne, and feed daunting reptiles inside crammed enclosures. Danger is a given for any zoo-keeper. But on Sunday evening, in an almost comic turn of events, it was not any of these intimidating creatures of the wild that drove the most seasoned of keepers at the city zoo around the bend, but two little parakeets.

It was around two in the afternoon that two intrepid ‘sun conure,’ a brightly-coloured member of the parrot family, decided to sneak out through a crack in the roof of their enclosure. Much to the horror of one of the zoo-keepers, a burst of golden-yellow flitted about the trees outside its cage, followed by one more. Others were called and the rusted bit of net that came apart was immediately sealed with a cloth to prevent the remaining eight from going gallivanting.

The next matter at hand — far easier said than done — was to get the two birds back into its enclosure. They placed on top of the sun conures’ enclosure another cage, a mechanism with two sections. In one, three birds were let in and in the other, a generous slice of papaya was kept. Both, the keepers’ believed, would lure the ‘wanderers’ into this secondary cage and then, back into the actual one. One keeper, Chandran, hid just out of sight, with a string in hand. As soon as the bird crossed into the cage, he would slam it shut. Seemed fairly straightforward, except the mischievous bird was more intent on playing peek-a-boo.

The following hours were agony for the keepers. Three hours since the drama began and their necks were sore from craning for so long. To keep their spirits up, they amused themselves by imagining conversations between the birds; singing rhymes involving parrots, and shooing away noisy visitors from the area. At times, it was as though a gripping sports match was on when one of the sun conure teetered on the edge of entering the trap but ‘reversed’ yet again. “I don’t think that bird has a first gear when it walks,” one of the keepers mumbled.

Meanwhile, one of the escapees travelled all the way to the ticket counter, where it conversed with the peacocks for a while.

As of 9 p.m., the ‘explorers’ were still fluttering around outside while a group of exhausted keepers, who were due to leave hours ago, waited and willed with torchlight for the drama to end.