There has been a birdnapping on Bannock Street.
Carlos Botran was in a meeting on September 6 at PivotPoint, a web and graphic design business at 1150 Bannock Street, when he believes someone came through the front door and took Alex, a 25-year-old African Grey Parrot who lived at the office and has been in business partner Kody Simmons's family for years.
"We're his people," Simmons says. "I can't imagine how terrified he is."
Simmons's family adopted Alex from a shelter about 24 years ago. Alex had been caught in the wild and somehow ended up in New Orleans. He'd been neglected and as a result, he's never been able to fly. He also has a seizure disorder and has fallen off his perch in the past, causing him to break a wing or a bone.
Alex loves attention, Simmons says. "He's like any person you'd ever meet," he says. "He wants to be loved and cuddled." He's been known to ride around on his owners' shoulders and hang out with them on PivotPoint's stoop. The neighbors all know him, partly because he's so loud, Simmons says. Alex loves to whistle and his vocabulary includes such phrases as, "Come here," "I'm a good bird," and "What's your problem?"
Simmons and Botran don't have any solid leads on the birdnapper, though they do have a hunch. The day before Alex was taken, a young woman came to the office ostensibly selling Comcast upgrades. But when she noticed Alex, she stopped talking about Comcast and started asking questions about the bird. "She was very interested," Botran says.
Botran took a phone call in the middle of her visit and when he hung up, the woman told him that she'd talked to her boss and there were no updates she could offer PivotPoint after all. She departed soon afterward. She didn't leave a business card, and Botran only got her first name: Ariel. From the moment she walked in, he and Simmons sensed there was something weird about her; she wasn't dressed professionally, her hair was messy and she didn't have a badge identifying her as a Comcast saleswoman. "It was odd," Simmons says.
Continue reading for more on Alex's disappearance, plus more photos and videos. A few other business owners in the area told Botran and Simmons they'd gotten visits from her, too. But when Botran inquired about her at the local Comcast office, he says he was told that they have no female employees named Ariel.
The next day, Botran was in a meeting when he heard Alex make a growling sound. Botran was in the next room with the door closed; Alex was also behind a closed door because he was being noisy. Botran noted that Alex rarely growls, but he didn't think much else of it. When his meeting ended, however, the bird was nowhere to be found. One of Alex's tail feathers was on the floor, Simmons says, its tip bloody.
Simmons and Botran have plastered the neighborhood with fliers, posted notices about Alex's disappearance on Craigslist, Facebook and Petfinder.com, and gotten the word out to local vets and bird supply stores. One of their friends is a tarot card reader and Simmons says he connected them with a pet psychic who told them he senses that Alex has escaped from his captors. "He feels he's out there, closer than we know," Simmons says.
But Simmons and Botran worry that Alex won't be able to survive in the wild alone. Because of his medical issues, he eats a special diet of scrambled eggs mixed with chopped kale and ground-up bird pellets. Alex also loves cheese, peanuts and fresh grapes -- but only if they're warm; he won't eat them right out of the refrigerator.
"He becomes part of your daily routine," Simmons says of Alex, who has lived at PivotPoint for the past two and a half years, ever since Simmons's mother moved out of state and couldn't take Alex with her. "It'd be like if one of us wasn't here anymore."
"When I'm here by myself, it's quiet," Botran says. "I miss him."
They've cleaned Alex's cage and laid fresh newspaper on the bottom in anticipation of his return. But, Simmons says, "every day it gets farther away, the chances are diminishing." Botran says his biggest worry is that Alex is hurt. "Is he alive and okay?" he says. "Is he alive and not okay? Is he alive and driving them nuts?"
Simmons and Botran are offering a reward for Alex's return, no questions asked. Anyone with information is encouraged to call Simmons at (303) 246-1821.
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