When the owners of the Yuhung Betel Nut Stand in Kaohsiung's Linyuan Township (林園鄉) made the decision to spend NT$26,000 (US$788) on an African grey parrot for their store, they were looking for a pet that could become like a child to them.
Little did they know, however, that the bird would take such a strong liking to the family business.
Customers don't need to ask the price of a pack of betel nut or a can of beer, as Pika has learned to shout them out as soon as they walk through the door.
He also serves as a watchdog, ruffling his feathers and stamping in circles around his perch to scare off strangers.
But Pika hasn't put all of his unusual intelligence to such productive use.
He is also notorious among customers and neighbors for having learned to swear like a trooper.
He has shown a proclivity for absorbing all the Taiwanese profanity not fit for print that might be overheard at a betel nut stand, so that now customers can expect to get not just betel nuts when they visit the shop, but also a torrent of verbal abuse.
Pika has a special talent for hurling insults and discouragement at people playing the lottery, which has led to the occasional threat by more than one disappointed gambler that he might be delicious if served roasted.
But most people in the community have been able to forgive most of the bird's crude manners and policemen from the local station regularly pass by so that they can wave hello.
Pika has also learned to yell "registered mail" when he sees the mailman approaching on his motorcycle, sometimes from as far as 20m away.
And any sensitive customers who are offended by coarse language had better get used to it or find somewhere else to go for a chew; Pika is only six years old, and African gray parrots can live to more than 50 years of age.
The navy’s new 10,600-tonne warship is on Tuesday to be christened the ROCN Yushan (玉山), as the nation’s indigenous shipbuilding program reaches a milestone, sources said yesterday. The vessel, previously referred to as the “new landing platform dock,” was at a shipyard with its name freshly painted on the hull with the number 1401, the Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times) reported yesterday, citing an unnamed observer. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a member of the legislature’s National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the report in a Facebook post. The NT$4.635 billion (US$163 million) ship is designed
DIALOGUE SOUGHT: Washington said it was concerned about the pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate Taiwan after the 10th day of PLA activity in the region The US on Monday urged Beijing to stop its multifaceted pressure campaign against Taiwan after China sent 25 military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. “The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to intimidate the region, including Taiwan,” a US Department of State spokesperson said in an e-mail response to questions. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.” The Ministry of National Defense said that 25 Chinese military aircraft entered the zone on Monday. It was the 10th straight
‘NOT ENTHUSIASTIC’: People who have been approved by the CECC as special cases who need to travel, such as foreign diplomats, would be able to receive a vaccine The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to the fourth priority group — people who need to travel abroad for special reasons — adding that out-of-pocket vaccines would be available from Wednesday next week. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said although Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination program was on Monday expanded to include the top three groups in the priority list, people are still “not enthusiastic” about getting vaccinated. “Only 1,220 people received a vaccine shot on Tuesday, and a total of 27,113 people have received COVID-19 vaccination” so far, he
INTERNATIONAL WEED DAY: Advocates are to hold a demonstration to push for the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing its use for treatment of certain conditions It is time for Taiwanese society to examine the medical benefits of cannabis, in line with the international trend to lift restrictions on and decriminalize the use of marijuana, two legislators said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s “Rally for Equal Rights for Cannabis” in Taipei. Taiwan is one of a few countries holding a “420 International Weed Day” event — which usually takes place around the April 20 weekend — as most nations have canceled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said organizer Green Sensation, which is composed of doctors, lawyers and entertainers, among others. The group released a