Dancing, mimicking model behavior and learning not to screech are some of the skills an academy in Cairo had been teaching pet parrots so that they and their owners can get along well and enjoy each other's company.
Parrot Academy was set up in 2014 in a large apartment in the Egyptian capital’s Heliopolis district. Its team, made up of three trainers and six other workers, came together over their love of animals – birds specifically.
"The target of the training is to make the bird live in harmony with the humans without any problems," animal trainer Nada Abdullah told Epa-Efe.
Each day, the birds are taken out of their cages so that they can be played with and fed, while at the same time their cages are cleaned out.
Besides looking after the parrots staying at the academy, the team is also trying to educate pet owners about keeping birds at home.
"We are trying to change the idea of bringing pets to the house just to make us happy, especially birds," said Abdullah. "We're supposed to make a good place for them, with plants and trees, and leave them out of their cage."
According to the trainer, providing a pleasant environment for household birds yields positive results for both the animals and the owners.
Parrots are trained to obey their owner's orders, to play without biting people and are taught to not screech, which makes for a healthier pet-owner relationship.
The parrots enjoy listening to music and "interact" with it, according to the trainer, who added: "sometimes, they try to sing the song that they're listening to in their own way.
"Music makes them happy just like us, and there are parrots that like to dance and shake their head with the beat of the song."
The birds are trained individually, although sometimes parrots that have already been trained are brought in to assist ones that are new to the program so that they imitate the desired behavior.
"We train the parrots in the right behavior, not to scream, and not to bite," said Abdullah, adding that owners come to visit their parrots throughout the training period to test out their birds' new skills.
Birds typically spend between 1-1.5 months at the center undergoing training and it sets the owners of baby parrots back 2,500 EGP ($150), while older ones are enrolled at a cost of 3,000 EGP.
The academy also teaches owners the skills they need in order to look after their parrots, including how to feed them correctly, keep them clean, and to know when to take their birds to the vet.
Looking after the animals is demanding and staff rarely get to take time off because they "must always be there for them," according to Abdullah.
The academy got in touch with similar training centers in other countries, "read a lot of books" and met other specialists so as to learn how to handle and teach the critters correct behavior.
"Step by step, we started to make the project bigger, we moved to a bigger place and we are planning to make our project bigger," she said.
The academy hopes to find schools in Egypt like the ones it discovered abroad, with whom they can "confidently" team up to find more specialized trainers.
Beyond the everyday routine of looking after the parrots and training them to be better birds, the academy hopes to grow and become a larger enterprise. "We want to make a park," said Abdullah.
"We want to have many kinds of animals not only birds, because we want to make people know that animals are not just silent creatures, but that we can have a mutual relationship with them," the trainer said. EFE-EPA