Talk is definitely not cheap to the owner of Piko-chan, a parakeet from the city of Sagamihara, west of Tokyo. On Sunday morning, the male bird flew away from its owner’s home and took up a perch on the shoulder of a guest at a nearby hotel. The bird was brought to the police and on Tuesday evening it talked, saying the names of the city and district of its owner’s house — and then noting the very block and street number.
With that kind of information, police were able to return the bird to its owner, a 64-year-old woman. She had previously lost another parakeet and was determined that the same would not happen with her current pet. The bird was also able to reveal its name to the police as it kept saying “you’re pretty, Piko-chan.”
Certainly teaching a pet to talk beats putting a tag or other form of ID on him or her!
Mythology and folktales are full of stories of animals talking, from the spider Anansi (among the Ashanti in Ghana) to Coyote and Raven (in Native American tales). At the end of Book 17 of the ancient Greek poet Homer’s Iliad, Xanthos, the horse of the hero Achilles, speaks. The horse tells Achilles that, like his friend Patroklos, he will be killed by a god, an eerie message that seems all the more powerful because of who, Xanthos, is uttering it. As with Piko-chan to the Sagamihara police, when animals speak, we’re called to listen.
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Photo by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)