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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Memphis – you were always on my mind

When his parrot Memphis went missing a year ago, a heartbroken Stevie Las Vegas went to great lengths to track him down.

ptvegasparrot
Memphis left the building – but now he’s back: Stevie Las Vegas with his beloved parrot

However, after months of searching, and as winter set in, the well known Cumbrian entertainer finally had to accept he and his children would never see their beloved pet ever again.

But now – 360 days on from the heartbreaking day he vanished and against all the odds – they have been reunited.

Elvis impersonator Stevie, real name Stephen Vevers, had presumed the six-year-old African grey was dead, unable to survive in the wild.

Then the call came on Sunday morning – a parrot matching Memphis’ description was spotted in a tree in their hometown of Silloth. But having experienced a number of hoaxes in the past 12 months, Stevie wasn’t confident.

“He was in a 40ft tree at Stanwix Holiday Park. I dashed round there straight away and he was talking and whistling away,” he said.

“I wasn’t sure it was him at first but thought ‘I have to get him down’. I had to borrow one of those big 30ft ladders.

“Someone was holding the bottom while I climbed up tentatively. There was no way I wasn’t going up.

“I was talking to him, shouting ‘where’s Elvis?’ but he wasn’t responding. All of a sudden he just looked at me, made eye contact and he said ‘ello son’, which is something I used to say to him.”

An overjoyed Stevie put his hand out and on climbed Memphis. He kept tight hold of him so he couldn’t fly away and carried him to safety.

He then took him back home, at the nearby Hilton Caravan Park, to break the good news to wife Marie and children Dee, 15, and Declan, 10. “We just can’t believe it. We’re still in shock.

“It’s definitely him – 100 per cent. All the markings and characteristics match.

“He’s not in a good state though – he’s lost all his feathers on his chest, one of his claws is missing and he’s been pecked at by other birds.

“He was shattered. I was singing Elvis Presley songs to him and he was falling asleep on my shoulder,” said Stevie.

Memphis escaped last September when he was sat outside with the family.

Stevie said he let his guard down, setting the parrot – who had only ever flown indoors – down on the table in front of him. But all of a sudden he was spooked by seagulls and took flight. “We watched as he went higher and higher and just became a dot. We tried to follow him but he vanished. We searched high and low for months. Everyone in Silloth was helping. I was even using the fire station tower as a look out point. We were absolutely devastated,” he added.

When he offered a reward and still there was no word, the family eventually resigned themselves to the fact he was never coming back.

They are absolutely amazed that almost a year to the day he turned up about a mile from their home. Stevie has two theories, either he’s somehow managed to survive in the wild eating nuts from feeders or he was taken in by someone and has now escaped again.

“I don’t know what to think really, it’s some survival story! I still can’t quite believe it. But all that really matters is he’s home. He’s part of our family and we’ve missed him.

“I won’t be making the same mistake again,” he added.

PMcGowan@cngroup.co.uk

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