(CN) - A Florida woman is holding a parrot hostage for "extortionate demands" after taking $12,000 for it, a British citizen claims in court.
Michael Knight, of the United Kingdom, sued Kathleen Szabo, of Palm Beach County, in Palm Beach County Court.
Knight claims that Szabo offered to sell him a blue yellow-naped Amazon parrot for $12,000 in November 2010. She claimed that if he sent the money, she would send the bird to him with a friend who was traveling from Florida to the United Kingdom, according to the lawsuit. For the money, she said she would "handle all aspects of shipping the bird," Knight claims.
Knight claims that he wired her the money on Nov. 29, 2010, but she never sent him the parrot.
Blue parrots are a rare and beautiful color mutation, which makes the birds highly sought after by collectors. Yellow-naped Amazons, whose napes may be white in the blue mutation, are gregarious, talkative fellows, which makes them even more desirable for parrot fanciers.
Transferring a parrot across international lines can be a daunting bureaucratic procedure, due to treaties on threatened and endangered wildlife. Countries may demand proof that the birds were captive-bred rather than removed from the wild; will usually impose a quarantine upon them to reduce the spread of tropical/avian diseases; and may impose other roadblocks.
Parrot chicks robbed from a nest in Central or South America, and sold there for $10 or $20, may go for thousands of dollars in the United States.
Knight's 5-page lawsuit contains no information about the provenance of the parrot.
He claims that Szabo put him off and put him off, and eventually told him he had to pay another "fifteen hundred dollars and going up as we speak," for "boarding" the parrot, and that upon receipt of the $1,500, she would ship the bird at his expense.
"Defendant then had the temerity (after plaintiff had arranged for a person in the United States to take possession of the parrot) to hold the parrot hostage to extortionate demands for boarding fees and shipping costs," Knight says in the complaint.
He claims that "it is now abundantly clear" that Szabo's offer of $12,000 for the parrot "was essentially a little more than an act of thievery".
Knight wants his $12,000 back, plus damages for civil theft and breach of contract.
He is represented by Nolan Klein, of Fort Lauderdale.
The color mutation is what makes the bird in question so valuable. The only other parrot that typically sells for a comparable price is the hyacinth macaw, the world's largest parrot, a shockingly blue, gentle bird with yellow-rimmed eyes. Hyacinth macaws can go for $12,000 and up.