Majid "Magic" Esmaeili, the owner of the Zaksee Florida Bird Sanctuary in Tampa, has been locked in his own home with over 200 hundred parrots on the property since lockdown began in March. Usually, Magic has dozens of volunteers helping him care for the birds around the clock, but with stay-at-home orders in place, he has been left to fend for himself.
In an email sent to the Tampa Bay Times and not the Police or Animal Control for some reason, Magic wrote "SOS...My name is Majid Esmaeili (AKA) Magic and I am prisoner in my own property with over 200 parrots. No way to get in or out."
While he is not being physically held hostage by the birds, he is at their every beck and call (or peck and caw in Magic's case) and that has led him to attempt to fly the coop.
A legal dispute between Magic and his neighbor Lynda Fowler, who sold him the property 10 years ago, is the real reason he is locked inside his own property. The sanctuary has nearly 60 enclosures for the parrots to live freely and a small office space that Magic has turned into his temporary home. It is only accessible by one cleared out dirt road that runs between the sanctuary and Fowler's property. When she sold him the land, the two agreed that Magic is allowed to use the road freely, so long as Fowler is allowed to use part of the sanctuary property for her horseback riding classes. After years of "abuse" from him, Fowler is fed up with Magic and has spent well over $100K in legal fees getting a court order barring Magic from using the dirt road.
“I operate a horseback riding ranch and children’s camp, and he jumps out of the woods looking like a madman, because he lives back there, and he makes the children cry,” ... “After years of abuse from him, I said enough, he needs to use his own egress and ingress. I’m over it with him.” - Fowler said
With the path gated off for the last three months, Magic has had no way in or out of the property. The sanctuary is surrounded on all sides by Fowlers home, a creek, and another neighbor's home, where access to the road is nearly impossible. With no volunteers around either, he has no way to get the food and other things he needs to help care for the parrots. Surviving off of diminishing bags of rice and the bananas, bamboo shoots, and anything else that grows on his property, Magic is fed up too (also probably going a little crazy) and he's ready to get the fuck out.
In a virtual tour that Magic gave the Tampa Bay Times, the hundreds of parrots could be heard throughout the whole thing, mostly screeching and cawing, but also some that were barking and meowing and imitating other animals; and even one that would not stop asking for a beer. Most of the birds have either been abused, neglected or have bit people and were sent to Magic to care for. But, right now Magic has had the difficult task of turning down countless birds needing rescue as he is most likely one "Polly want a cracker!?" away from killing himself.
“At night, I answer a few emails from people who want me to take their parrots, but I can’t take any parrots now. I am only one person.”
After some aggressive appeals and a GoFundMe started for Magic and the birds, the Judge has temporarily granted a stay on the order, allowing Magic to use the dirt road again to help care for his Parrots. Unfortunately, with no volunteers around and storm season upon us, Magic's biggest concern now is the daunting task of moving all 200 birds to specialized containers before a storm rolls in… Good luck my dude.
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