The “astrologer parrots” or “fortune teller parrots” are mostly found in the Tamil Nadu area in India, in the Little India district in Singapore and in Pakistan, where similar species can be also found. This practice involves the use of trained parrots that help the fortune-teller by choosing a Tarot card in order to predict the future of their customers, especially that future related to love, marriage, work and clients.
The fortune- teller usually keeps one or two parrots in a cage and frees them when a customer requires their service. The parrots are trained to pick a card, give it to its owner and go back to the cage. According to the fortune-teller, the parrot would pick the card depending on the customer’s name, other factors or just following its "insticts". The astrologer would then read this card to the customer. Usually these cards show images of hindu gods, Buda or even the Virgin Mary holding Jesus Christ.
The parrots’ owners feed them with fruits, walnuts and chilies to improve their intelligence. The training of these animals implies animal abuse, not only to these parrots in particular but also for the rest of birds used in similar shows, since they are trained using violence. Parrots, that are classified as neophobic animals- which means that they fear new things and they tend to fly away- are victims of a practice called “pinioning” by which their winds are partly amputated. (Click here to read more about the birds’ abuse in this kind of shows)
This kind of practice used to be very common in India in places like beaches, parks at sunset or even by the roads. However, it is declining due to the increasing lack of customers and because it was recently forbidden. Actually in India, it is against the law to capture, sell and keep a native bird in captivity.
The organization “Visakha Society for the Protection and Care of Animals” in collaboration with “World Parrot Trust” have rescued a great number of these birds
In Singapore, the clients are usually tourists who pay 5 Singapore dollars for the prediction. In 2010 one of these parrots got pretty famous after guessing most of the results of the FIFA World Cup. Mani, that’s the parrot’s name, has been “working” for its owner since 2005. They became so famous that nowadays they receive 10 clients per hour.
According to the orthodox Muslims, this practice is forbidden for being considered superstitious, however, the Pakistanis fortune tellers do not agree. Fortune tellers usually give to their clients some kind of tasks or “homework” to do like for example repeating Koran’s or Karmas verses in order to make the prediction come true.