London: A parrot that can sing and speak Italian is at the centre of a bitter custody row in Britain, a media report said on Saturday.
The bird is a children`s favourite at a park in Harlow, Essex. But Angelo Ferlazzo, 50, claims the parrot belongs to him, express.co.uk reported.
He said he taught the bird, an African Grey called Coco, to chatter in Italian and whistle the classic song "O Sole Mio" after he bought it from a local pet shop in 1984.
When his marriage broke down a few years later, he moved back to his native Italy, leaving Coco with his ex-wife.
Four years ago, back in Britain, he visited Pets` Corner in Harlow Town Park and found Coco was the main attraction.
Ferlazzo said the parrot`s rendition of "O Sole Mio" shed any doubts and brought tears to his eyes. "We want to be reunited - that bird should be with a family," he added.
But his pleas to Harlow Council to hand over the bird, even offering to replace him with another African Grey, have failed.
The RSPCA, an animal welfare charity, has told the council officials that after nine years at Pets` Corner, any move would distress the parrot.
Ferlazzo`s new partner, Karen Wright, said: "We don`t understand how Coco would be better off in a cage at Pets` Corner. He`s got to be better off in a warm, loving family home."
Harlow councillor Joel Charles said: "Coco was donated in good faith to Pets` Corner about nine years ago. He is much-loved, and imitates both staff and animals. The council has seen no facts to question its rightful ownership of the parrot. We sympathise with Ferlazzo but have to put the animal`s welfare first."