LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Senny the Senegal parrot is back at the Zoo of Acadiana.
Authorities assumed the parrot was dead after a man stole it and two other birds from the privately-owned zoo and crashed fatally after a police chase.
But Curtis Gonzalez of New Iberia tells The Advertiser that he spotted the bird on the side of a highway Friday about a mile from the accident site.
"I remembered hearing about the robbery and that one bird was missing," said Gonzalez. "When do you see parrots on the side of the road?"
Gonzalez said the bird was near the roadway when he first saw him, then flew into the middle of traffic. Gonzalez got out to wave the bird away and it flew up and landed in front of his car, he said.
That's when he threw his jacket over the bird and put him in his car.
"I held him snuggly," he said. "I knew that would calm him down."
While waiting for police to arrive, Senny stuck his head out of the jacket and bit him, drawing blood. Gonzalez put on leather gloves and offered the bird something to drink, and the bird bit him again.
"It was painful," he said. "I decided, 'OK, Mr. Bird, whatever you want.' "
Another bird, a blue-feathered Indian ring neck, had been seen flying from the wrecked car. Authorities had assumed Senny had died in the crash.
When zookeeper Jennifer Gates arrived at the roadside, however, there was no mistaking that it was the Senegal parrot.
"She started crying," Gonzalez said. "The bird knew her, and she knew the bird."
Senny was hungry and dehydrated but otherwise appeared to be in good health, said Lea Martin, the zoo's marketing director. He is being monitored in the zoo's veterinary clinic.
The three birds were stolen before dawn Wednesday. Zoo owner George Oldenburg had been sleeping there and called police.
Officers arrived as Yongcun Su of New Iberia was leaving. They chased him until his 2011 BMW crashed into some trees, ejecting Su and killing him.
Police are still investigating the theft, including whether Su acted alone, Broussard Police Chief Brannan Decou has said.
The birds are desirable exotics valued at more than $3,000, but are considered "pet trade" birds that are readily available for purchase, officials said.
Another popular bird from the zoo, a white-bellied caique parrot named Kiwi, died Thursday morning from injuries he sustained in the crash.