Video: Belsize community unite singing parrot and owner after ‘evil prank’
13:00 10 July 2014
The owner of an exotic parrot that escaped on a two-day adventure around Belsize Park, Swiss Cottage and South Hampstead has said he witnessed “the best and worst” of humanity as he turned to Twitter and Camden residents to try to track down his pet.
Bob Stephenson-Padron was distraught after Coco Lee, a three-year-old African grey parrot whose extensive talents include singing and dancing to Baha Men hit-song Who Let the Dogs Out? and reeling off phrases like “kiss me”, flew off into the distance two weeks ago.
Becoming more desperate by the minute, the Swiss Cottage resident turned to his Camden neighbours for help.
Councillors retweeted pictures of Coco, friends helped put up posters offering a reward and the Ham&High spread social media appeals calling for her return.
Owning a parrot had been a childhood dream for Bob, and he was left feeling one of his worst nightmares had come true when he received his first phone call the following day.
“Someone called saying they’d found Coco and that she was up a tree,” he said. “I was so exited and was ready to race down there.
“But then I heard them suddenly saying Coco had fallen onto the floor. And that a fox had come along. And that it was eating her.
“I was so upset. I thought she was dead. I asked where they were and he gave me an address. I looked it up but it didn’t exist. I was so confused.”
Shocked that a fox may have chosen much-loved Coco as its next meal, Bob could do little more than mourn the loss.
But it was a group waiting for a bus in Belsize Road the morning after the call that exposed what turned out to be “the most evil” prank.
Music publisher Rudy Bazeley, 28, was in his flat across the road when he saw a commotion at a bus stop. “I popped my head out the window to see what was happening and there was this lady looking pretty anxious,” he said.
“I didn’t know why but she then turned her body and I just saw a parrot on her shoulder. I just burst out laughing. It was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.”
The “anxious lady” was fellow Belsize Road resident and web designer Hally Bowman – a self-confessed parrot-phile who had always wanted one of her own.
“When I saw this parrot standing on the bus stop roof I decided to strike up a conversation,” she explained. I said, ‘hello’. It said ‘hello’ back and seconds later it was on my shoulder.
“Coco jumped onto another woman’s shoulder and eventually ended up in Rudy’s flat where she was later reunited with Bob.
“You can feel so alone at times in London but the whole community came out to help bring Coco and Bob back together – he was so happy when I called him.”
Bob, who works for Penrose Care in Belsize Lane, says the help from everyone to find Coco “changed his life”.
“The fox prank was very evil – but the good side of the community really came through for me in the end,” he said.