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A “Twin Peaks” plot point featuring a parrot came to life in Brazilian true crime

Brazilian macaw closeup.
Reuters/Paulo Whitaker
The caged bird may sing.
  • Ephrat Livni
By Ephrat Livni

Senior reporter, law & politics, DC.

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

As any fan of the classic TV show Twin Peaks will tell you, pets won’t necessarily keep your secrets. In the David Lynch TV series that began airing in 1990, a myna bird named Waldo was a key witness in the murder investigation of Laura Palmer, giving its owner away by repeating the last line it heard before the crime was committed, “Leo, no!”

Now police in Brazil want a parrot captured at a drug bust on April 22 to do something similar. But the bird is so far refusing to snitch. And it was the one who tipped its owners off to the fact that the cops were coming in the first place, facilitating their timely escape.

The “trafficking parrot” (link in Portuguese), as the bird is being called by Brazilian media, acted as a lookout at the home of two alleged crack cocaine dealers in the state of Piauí. According to local authorities, it was perched inside and repeatedly warned its owners that police were approaching, shouting in Portuguese, “Mamãe, polícia!” meaning, “Mama, police!”

One officer involved in the bust, the Guardian reported, mused that it was all in a day’s work for the lime-green bird: “He must have been trained for this. As soon as the police got close he started shouting.”

The warnings gave the home’s occupants enough time to get away, but the bird wasn’t as fortunate, or maybe just not worried about arrest. It waited patiently, perched on what in a Brazilian TV news report (link in Portuguese) looks like a coffee table, while police collected evidence and counted crack cocaine rocks. Footage from local news shows the bird leaving the house on a policeman’s hand.

The bird was then caged (paywall) and taken to the station, where cops tried to get it to talk. But no dice.

Despite the bird not snitching, its owners were picked up and arrested on April 24. The bird’s reticence to speak continued even after it was transferred to a zoo, following Brazilian environmentalists challenging its incarceration in the police station, the cable network GloboNews reported (link in Portuguese). A veterinarian at the zoo later told reporters that the bird is still not speaking, though lots of police officers have been by to question it.

Still, if life imitates art, Twin Peaks suggests that it’s too soon for the bird’s owners to be sure it won’t testify against them—and that things could always get even more weird and surreal.

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