Parrot paints pictures, poses in ponchos
Chase Banger, CTV Kitchener
Published Monday, April 15, 2019 5:14PM EDT
Parrots are known for their ability to speak a few sentences, but a Kitchener woman’s bird has his own unique set of skills.
Koa is a two-year-old sun conure from South America. He’s also an internationally-acclaimed artist.
“I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to scream and scare him away but I was so happy,” remembers owner Gina Keller when Koa first picked up a brush.
Keller says it was a chance trip to a zoo where Gina saw elephants painting t-shirts that would set up Koa for his future career. When she saw them in action, Keller thought, “If they can do it, so can he.”
When she got home, she picked up a brush and began painting. Koa’s curiosity was instant, but Keller says she used reverse psychology to get him to try it.
“Once you start teaching a bird, they’re highly intelligent and they can get bored easily and so he likes to learn and play,” Gina says. Koa also bowls, plays basketball and dances to the tune of ‘If you’re happy and you know it.’
Now, months after he first picked up the brush, Koa has sold paintings from Iceland to New Zealand to Hawaii. The bird, along with his brother Tiko, has about 11,000 followers on Instagram.
The money that he raises from the paintings, which sell for $100, gets split between Koa and those in need.
Keller says half the money goes into a piggy bank to support other birds or the humane society. Koa reaps the benefits from the rest, in the form of toys, food and his own veterinarian bills.
The pair also loves to visit retirement homes, where he can perform a number of tricks in his repertoire. The bird sometimes wears different costumes, including a poncho and sombrero and a tuxedo and bowler hat.
“I like their colours, I like their attitude. I wish they’d kiss me!” says Annalise with a laugh. She lives at Trinity Village retirement home, where Keller brought Koa and Tiko to entertain the seniors there.
So what’s next for the fledgling artist? Keller says they have their eyes set on one day making it into a Super Bowl commercial.