Jojo Passes Away

22 06 2010

Last night Jojo, the moluccan cockatoo that has been living with us here at Paradise Gardens, passed away.

We had noticed her acting funny in the morning. She was standing only on her right foot, which is normal, but she was shaking her left foot a bit, in a way that both Jen and I noticed and thought odd. So we kept an eye on her all morning. Around one pm Fidel noticed that she had a dark turquoise liquid dripping from her beak. We went in to see what exactly it was and she threw up more of the liquid. We noticed that there was a pile of sunflower seeds, her favorite food, in the same turquoise liquid underneath her perch and some splattered on her perch. Mic, Jojo’s partner seemed upset, moving around spastically and squawking.

Jen and I searched the cage for any sign of a foreign objects that someone might have put in the cage, or a snakeĀ  that could have bit Jojo and found nothing that could have bit her or that she could have eaten. Jen sat and sang to Jojo and Mic, they both calmed down, Jojo swayed a bit to the music and closed her eyes. While Jen was singing and talking to them I did some research. I couldn’t find anything definitive on what would make a moluccan cockatoo have turquoise vomit, or vomit at all. So Jen came out and started calling cockatoo rescues around the world. The one we regularly communicate with was not answering their phone so she began to call everyone we could find a number for. Most people didn’t respond, I guess that is the nature of cockatoo rescues… busy and volunteer staffed, and answering the phone comes second after taking care of the birds.

Jen and I went back to Jojo’s cage, and Jen gave Jojo a peanut. Peanuts are usually one of her favorite foods but this time she held it in her beak but wouldn’t eat it. Jen sat and talked to her a while more. We all checked in on her throughout the afternoon. She seemed stable. No more green vomit. Mic was still agitated, and Jojo didn’t seem well, but she wasn’t getting worse.

In the evening we took the babies (Arjento the white nosed coati and Manolo the capuchin monkey) inside, gave them their bottles and had our own dinners. Jen went out to check on Jojo one more time before going to sleep. She came back inside and asked me to come out with her. At Jojo’s cage I saw Jojo on the ground. Mic was standing on the perch above her, rocking and moving his head backwards and forwards. Jen talked to Mic while I ducked under him to pick up Jojo. She was dead. We took her body out and examined it but found no evidence of any bites, swelling, cuts or other injuries. Only a little turquoise liquid on her beak. We decided it would be best to take Mic out in case whatever had killed Jojo, food or animal, was still in there and a threat to him. We put him in a temporary cage in the garage, our infirmary (the injured tamarin monkey is in there as well) and said goodnight.

In the morning, in the daylight, we went over Mic and Jojo’s cage again. We razed the place, taking out the perches, the ropes and the netting, scraping everything off the ground. Underneath the perch Jojo had been on we found a male and a female brown recluse spider. We think that this is what killed her. Perhaps the spider bit her foot and that was why she was holding her foot funny in the morning. We couldn’t find any information about brown recluse bites on cockatoos, or any spider bites on cockatoos, but in humans recluses can be deadly and the symptoms include vomiting. The time frame seems appropriate as well. If you have any information on spider bites effects on birds, especially brown recluse bites on cockatoos, please comment and share your knowledge with us! We welcome any information you can give us.


Mic is still in his temporary enclosure. He will be moved in with Sam after we keep him in a sort of quarantine for a bit. The thing is, although we are almost sure it was a spider bite that killed Jojo, we are not 100% sure. If it was an illness, bacterial or viral, then Mic could have it as well and just not be showing any symptoms yet. And if we put him in with Sam that would endanger Sam as well. But it is doubtful that this is the case, and for Mic’s sake we sure hope it isn’t. If Mic and Sam get along, which according to the cockatoo experts we’ve talked to, they should, they will be great for each other, entertaining one another all the time. Already, from their adjacent enclosures, they talk back and forth, imitate each other, and Mic has learned to beg for a head scratch (and he gets them!) from the way Sam does it: Say hello, hello, hello, then walk over to the wire and lean his head down pressed just at perfect scratching level for the humans on the other side of the fence.

We will all miss Jojo, we all fell in love with her here and will miss her talking, mumbling and even squawking.