Palm Beach County Woman Holds Exotic Parrot Hostage, Lawsuit Says

Exotic birds -- apparently -- are big business. Collectors are willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for top-line animals, even getting involved in overseas business deals with strangers to land the right Polly.

But even in this seemingly wholesome hobby, deals can go bad. According to a lawsuit filed recently in Palm Beach County court, the arrangements between a local woman and an English gentleman for a blue-yellow nape Amazon parrot went south, leaving the expensive animal hostage.

According to the filing, back in 2010, Michael Knight, a resident of the United Kingdom, and Kathleen Szabo, of Palm Beach County, hatched a deal for the bird. Knight agreed to pay Szabo $12,000 for the parrot; the American would handle all the permitting, and then ship it through a friend traveling from Florida to the UK.

On November 29, 2010, according to the suit, Knight transfered the full sticker price to Szabo's account. But the parrot never arrived.

Apparently Knight and Szabo remained in contact. Almost a year later, Knight received a "bizarre email" from the bird dealer saying that if he wanted the parrot, he'd now have to get all the permits for himself. He spent the next year trying to find someone in the States who could take the animal for him and ship it off to its rightful home.

An associate in New York finally stepped up in late 2013. But before the handoff, Szabo allegedly told Knight he'd have to pay "fifteen hundred dollars and going up as we speak" for housing the animal in the interim. Also, Knight would have to pay for the shipping.

This was counter to the original agreement. Szabo "had the temerity... to hold the parrot hostage to extortionate demands for boarding fees and shipping costs, the former being necessitated only by Defendant's failure to deliver on her promises in the first instance, and the latter being an expense that Defendant had agreed to undertake," the lawsuit says.

"He transferred the money to her and basically got nothing for the money," Knight's attorney, Nolan Klein, tells New Times. "She said if he wanted the bird, he would have to pay her more money."

Attempts to contact Szado were unsuccessful. A phone number listed under her name was not working.

Attempts to contact the parrot were also unsuccessful. But for that kind of money, we're sure he'd be extremely eloquent on the topic. Next time you make that car payment, just remember: $12,000 for a parrot. $12,000 for a parrot. $12,000 for parrot.

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Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson