You’ll be in my Heart

There’s people who love dogs. And there’s others who love cats, rabbits, turtles, you name it.
And then, there’s very few, who love all kinds of animals – in a wider, somewhat spiritual sense, but also very down to earth. Like Annamaria Giannoccaro, 34, pharmacist from Fasano, who cannot help but save all kinds of animals around her. Baby birds who have fallen from their nest and wouldn’t survive otherwise, for example. Her big love is (better: was) a dog: Laica. Who, sadly, passed away after 18 years. Yet, the pain she felt , was so unbearable that she never wanted to go through that any more. That’s why she decided to adopt an animal that would survive her, most probably:
Oscar, the parrot. Here’s their story

I get you’re more than just an animal lover…
Well, I think so. As a child I dreamed of being a veterinarian, a choice I had to revisit due to the inevitable confrontation with the pain and death of these splendid creatures. A challenging aspect from a psychological point of view. Having the fortune of living in the countryside, I have always loved nature and animals, including dogs. I had three: Simba, Billy and Laica. Laica was the smallest of a litter of a poodle and a pomeranian. I adopted her when I was no more than 12 years old, I was over the moon. A white wad that I loved unconditionally from the first moment, a love that she reciprocated without words, without asking for anything and without compromise. Animals do not judge but love us for who we are and often bring out the best and purest part of us. She was my playmate, she was by my side in the most important stages of my life. When I studied for exams she was always next to me, her silent presence was reassuring. I mentioned it in the acknowledgments of my degree thesis, she deserved it. You must know, Laica was a little warrior. She underwent several operations and overcame them brilliantly. When she passed away at the age of 18 I felt heartbreaking pain, absolutely comparable to the death of a family member. I don’t feel ashamed for this pain that is still so intense, unfortunately it is often not understood or is belittled. Her presence was comforting, her gaze conveyed love. He will always be in my heart, she was the best part of me.
I like to think she’s in animal heaven.

Instead of eventually adopting another dog you took a fairly unusual decision.
Well, I adopted a parrot. It was love at first sight. Oscar is an Ararauna Macaw, a parrot with an average lifespan of 80 years. “She will be with me forever, and I won’t see her die”, that’s clearly what I thought. The love that I could no longer give to Laica was destined for Oscar. When I got her, she was four months old, I fed her with the syringe until she learned to eat on her own. Initially Oscar lived with us in the house, it was fun. In the evening when we returned from work, she couldn’t wait to climb on top of us to have scratches and caresses. And sometimes some walnuts, which she is fond of. But managing an exotic animal that needs a lot of space wasn’t easy. Now she has her own aviary. She can even fly between trees and swing on swings. She also has a companion, Paulie. I know it’s hard to believe, but she is very fond of me and my husband, she loves our attention, just being, spending time together. She repeats a few words and greets us when she sees us. When I give her something to eat she asks “Is it good?” We also took her to a nursery in Fasano once, to introduce her to the children: It was a wonderful experience to see the wonder in their eyes, everybody had fun, learned something new.

How does the parrot behave with the kids in your house?
I have a three year old and a two months old. Elisa, the eldest, brings her nuts and Oscar takes them from her hands, she is very delicate despite having a very large beak. She even breaks coconut shells! She is very curious about the baby, we can tell, but we will wait for the little one to grow up and decide for herself how to approach her. However, I am relaxed because Oscar is very sweet!

If she were a human being who would she be from your point of view?
I would say an adopted daughter. I looked after her as if she were a child. Since she lives outside, we installed a heating system that we turn on in the evening to keep her warm. That’s love, I guess…

What’s so amazing about her? Why do you love her so much?
It’s actually hard not to love Oscar! She is always cheerful, empathetic, she can understand, feel and share human emotions. The skin on her cheeks turns red when she is excited, or simply when she sees us, a characteristic of Macaws.

Any advice you’d like to share with people who love animals but are not as experienced as you are?
Getting a pet is a big commitment and you need to have a great sense of responsability. Pets are not toys, they need time, space, and they can get to be fairly expensive! I recommend you think about it carefully. But an animal gives you its best years and when it gets older it teaches you to love the little moments together even more. It definitely makes life better, I can assure you.