Aptly, the word “cockatoo” in Malay, “kakatua,” is semantically related to our Filipino word “kakatuwa.” And cockatoos are creatures which bring joy to bird lovers with their playful and mischievous antics.

One lively cockatoo named Coco catches the attention of passersby at the pet exhibition at the World Trade Center. The husband and wife who own the cuddly cockatoo are Medel and Ann Mangahas, who hail from Angat, Bulacan.

“Coco is the jealous type. [He] doesn’t want other birds [to have attention. He bullies them! And it is choosy about who he gets along with.] We have a neighbor whom Coco dislikes. [His] crest rises and Coco becomes exceptionally loud whenever our neighbor is around,” Ann says.

Coco is a white umbrella cockatoo, which belongs to the larger cockatoos. They have a rounded crest which is umbrella-shaped when raised, thus giving them their name.

“Coco is a male and 8 months old,” Medel says. Cockatoos can live up to 70 years. “Yes, [he] is learning to say its name through repetition and being rewarded with seeds,” he adds. It is said that cockatoos can mimic human speech or sounds perfectly, the African gray parrot is a particular master of this. Cockatoos can imitate sounds, but they are not as good at this as many other species.

Perched on his bar, Coco merrily sways to the loud music blaring at the exhibit area. The amused visitors happily pose for their selfies and groufies with him. Cockatoos and other parrots have the ability to dance along with music. They are known for their cuddly and social personalities—and are often able to get down to a good beat. A calypso beat, perhaps?“

I feed Coco a variety of fresh foods: veggies, fruits, and avian pellets. I also give [him] a weekly bath and shampoo,” Medel says.

One incident did scare the couple a bit. “[It was his] first time [to climb a tree]. [He] flew and perched at the topmost part of the tamarind tree. So we waited for 3 hours and 20 minutes for it to climb down,” Ann vividly recalls of Coco’s free flight. Experts say that it’s better if you clip the wings of a bird; it won’t be able to fly until the clipped feathers are shed and replaced by new feathers. Therefore, clipping the wings of a cockatoo is never permanent and should be repeated twice a year.

“Like all cockatoos, Coco is lively and affectionate, and wants lots of attention. It loves to play and interact with me. It wants to be at my side as often as possible. [He likes being petted.] Coco is my stress reliever, after a stressful day at work,” Medel shares.

Curiously, cockatoos are somewhat prone to neurotic behavior, including feather picking and self-mutilation. “Sometimes, [when he lacks attention, he goes a bit crazy!]” Anne laughs. So cockatoos need pet owners who are affectionate and attentive to their needs. They demand a great deal of time from their owners.

And Coco is lucky to have the devoted duo Ann and Medel as companions for life.


This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s May 2018 issue.