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A Story for Max, the African Grey

Rose De Dan tells Max a Story, ©Rose De Dan

In my efforts to offer as many Zoo Animal Ambassadors as possible the opportunity to participate in shamanic ceremonies, and for me to connect with them and listen, I make unofficial visits to a few local places regularly. I aim for at least once a year, but sometimes that just doesn’t work out.

I revisited Cougar Mountain Zoo a few months ago and discovered that a lot more time than a year had passed since I had been there. The three mountain lion cubs had grown into three very gorgeous and personable adults—one of whom I have a feeling may grow into an important teacher. Time will tell.

Cougar Mountain had just gotten four very young male wolf pups, who, of course, were adorable. They feel like a counterpoint to the four female wolves at the Woodland Park Zoo. I look forward to seeing how that plays out in ceremonies.

Most startling (in a good way) was Cougar Mountain’s new Bird World, a brand-new area with lovely toys and other amenities just for parrots, macaws, and cockatoos.

I was awestruck by its magnificence when I first walked in, and unsure who to approach first. As I walked down the line and said hello to each bird I felt pulled toward an African Grey parrot named Max.

When I stopped in front of Max he gave me a look that said he was interested, but I felt he was reserving judgment—I had to prove myself. I have absolutely no idea what prompted me to do this (Spirit most likely), but I said out loud to Max, “I want to tell you a story.” And I proceeded to tell him about a recent event concerning my cat—one I have tentatively entitled “Manitou and the Hummingbird.” It is a story I have not yet written down, so Max got to hear it first.

The whole time I was telling him this story I had one part of my brain saying to me, “Seriously? You tell a bird a story about a cat?” But another part of me felt strongly that Max would really enjoy the conclusion.

I told the story with a combination of spoken words and mental images. Max was a quiet but attentive audience. I finished, and if I was expecting parrot applause I didn’t get it. I did feel as though I had passed some sort of test, although I have no idea what the criteria was. I bowed to Max, thanked him for listening, and moved on.

I returned a month or so later, and when I said hello to Max he mentally asked me if I had another story. I smiled at him, and to verify that I had understood correctly I verbally asked, “You’d like another story?”

I expected Max to reply mentally. Instead—OUT LOUD—he said very clearly, “Yes.”

I was floored. I am used to animals responding mentally. I’ve never had one reply back verbally in English since most species simply can’t. I felt deeply honored that Max chose to do that since he had never made a sound before that moment.

I laughed with delight, and said, “It’s a doozy,” (referring to the story), and proceeded to tell Max all about how the Orcas responded when we showed up in answer to their call for Whale Teachers #2: The Orcas, and all of the incredible, amazing things that happened during the long time they spent with us.

Max gave every appearance of enjoying the story—he never took his eyes off me. I got a sense of excitement from him about the events, and that he was glad to hear something interesting rather than the usual way we talk to parrots.

Maybe next time I’ll ask Max what kind of story he would like to hear. Who knows what he’ll say?


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©2015 Rose De Dan. All Rights Reserved.


Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.

Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.

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