Shy Cockatoo Rescued From Puppy Mill Transforms, Becoming ‘Star of the Show’

The following story was submitted to the From Woofs to Wonders Photo and Story contest. The top three finishers received a $250 Animal Rescue Site store shopping spree, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. To read more stories, click here!

Miss Pearl the umbrella cockatoo came to The Gabriel Foundation in 2014 along with seven other birds from a puppy mill that was raided. She and the other birds were living in deplorable conditions and being fed dog food. The size cage that Pearl was in was barely bigger than her. When she entered the care of The Gabriel Foundation, she was very shy and was missing most of her leg, chest, and neck feathers.


I started working with her while she was still in quarantine in hopes of getting her to trust people again. Through bribery with her favorite treats, progress was slowly made to gain her trust. A few weeks later, she started opening up and talking to me. There is just something about working with an animal and seeing progress that really makes my heart soar. The moment she said ‘peek-a-boo’ in this high pitched girly voice, I knew that I needed to adopt her.


After bringing her home, we continued to make progress. I started taking her to short outreach events, and that was where she would really shine. She became the star of the show and was stepping up onto everyone! This girl went from a shy little half-naked cockatoo to an outgoing half naked cockatoo.


Even though she was in a loving home, she continued to trim and pull out her feathers. Unfortunately, this is a hard habit to break, and it requires plenty of patience. It wasn’t until 2019 that she slowed down with the feather trimming and started letting her feathers come in.

Along with the new feather growth came new confidence and the desire to be the center of attention wherever she goes. She now gets really excited to meet new people and show off for them. If the person ignores her, she lets them know that it is unacceptable and that she needs to be acknowledged. Adopting her is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I can’t imagine life without her in it.


This story was submitted by Melissa Heath in support of The Gabriel Foundation. To read other stories from the From Woofs to Wonders Photo and Story contest, click here!

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