Ripley, believe it or not
RIPLEY IS A HANDSOME blue and gold macaw. Until recently, though, few people could get a good look at him, including anyone who might want to adopt him. That’s because Ripley only felt safe while in his cage, and he also had a case of “stranger danger.” Whenever a human approached him, he would make it clear (with a series of squawks and a flurry of feathers) that he wasn’t interested in being friends.
Parrot Garden caregivers began working with Ripley to ease his anxiety. First, they showed him that being outside of his enclosure — whether it was up on a play stand or down on the floor in the parrot playroom — didn’t have to feel scary. He began to relax and to trust his caregivers more as he followed them around while they cleaned. Ripley also got a brand-new enclosure, one he wasn’t attached to yet, so he didn’t feel he needed to protect it.
Meanwhile, caregivers Elle Greer and Jessica Hagedorn each began building a relationship with Ripley outside of his cage in a neutral area, such as when he’s perched on the play stand. Since Ripley is fond of food, they use treats to reward him for letting them approach him, and they are teaching him cues that will eventually lead to Ripley stepping up onto their hands. “To earn Ripley’s trust, we are being patient and moving at his pace,” Elle explains.
Not only can more people get a glimpse of the handsome parrot these days, he receives more treats, because he lets his caregivers reach in and reward him for being brave. It’s easy to see that this approach is working for Ripley, believe it or not. (We choose to believe it.)