Charlie the cockatoo and his owner Jess Adlard have been separated for a year after she moved from Pennsylvania in the US to the UK in November 2022.
The ‘cheeky’ bird was supposed to arrive in the UK nine months after Jess left so the pair could be reunited – but a paperwork issue means he’s still ‘doing bird’ at the London airport.
Jess is worried for Charlie’s wellbeing as he keeps banging his head on his cage and plucking his feathers out, which are common signs of distress.
The 33-year-old, who spent £6,000 on Charlie’s transit, also added that she suffers from anxiety and depression, and the cheeky cockatoo really helps alleviate it.
Jess said: ‘My daily routine revolved around him, it has really thrown me off. We haven’t been able to see him but they sent us videos and pictures.
‘He has been banging his head against the cage wall and crying for me.
‘He has been plucking his feathers and asking if he is a good boy.’
Jess’s husband Joe, who is a customs clearance agent, flew to the US to bring Charlie to the UK.
But when they landed at Heathrow Charlie was held because of a missing document – and he’s been there ever since.
Jess, who moved to Loughborough in Leicestershire, continued: ‘They said the original export permit was missing – but it was with Charlie when he left the airport in the States.
‘It has cost us £6,000 to get him here.
‘We have sent picture copies over to them but they say they need to see the original but it was with Charlie.
‘We haven’t heard anything from them since September.’
Jess bought Charlie, a rose-breasted cockatoo, in December 2019 and said he is a ‘cheeky chap’.
She is now pleading with officials to release him as she hasn’t been able to see or speak to him since he arrived in the UK.
Staff at the private animal facility have been playing the film Rio, about a talking bird, on a tablet for him to try to calm him. But Jess just wants Charlie to come home.
Describing Charlie, Jess added: ‘He is so cheeky and intelligent, he is funny and likes to dance.
‘If he ever does anything naughty and gets caught he will immediately say, “I love you.”
‘It is difficult to put into words how I feel when I think about Charlie coming home.
‘It is like Christmas and your birthday. I am tearing up thinking about it.
‘We want Charlie home. We have a beautiful home for him.
‘If there is a problem we need to rectify then why hasn’t anyone been in contact with us.’
The Home Office said in a statement: ‘Wildlife entering the UK through the border is governed by strict domestic and international law.
‘Where required documentation isn’t presented, Border Force can seize pets.
‘We take the welfare of animals in our care seriously and those in our protection are looked after in suitable facilities by trained staff, with specialist veterinary care available if required.’
Jess and Joe have now set up a GoFundMe to help cover their costs, which you can read about and donate to here.
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