Berlin Retiree Lived with 1,500 Parakeets
A Berlin-area animal shelter has struggled to find homes for some 1,500 small birds hoarded by one man in his small apartment. "Unfortunately this isn't an isolated situation," says one official, citing cases involving goats and monkeys.
Berlin officials cleared about 1,500 budgies and parakeets on Tuesday evening from a two-room apartment occupied by a retired man in the Spandau district of Berlin, according to city veterinarian Margit Platzer, who said it took more than seven hours to catch all the birds.
The 60-year-old man had collected the animals over the last 10 years, letting them perch on wooden rods installed in his living room and fly freely around the apartment. His floors were covered in inches of bird dung, Platzer said, and some walls had gone moldy from moisture. The man's neighbors had called to complain about the noise and smell.
"Unfortunately this isn't an isolated situation," said Wolfgang Apel, head of Berlin's animal protection services. "The number of so-called animal hoarders has risen drastically." Around 160 other pets have been recovered from similar conditions around Berlin in the past week, ranging from cats and dogs to monkeys and goats.
Berlin shelters lack the space for these animals, he said, and the 1,500 birds caused a crisis of accommodation on Wednesday. About half were absorbed by a Berlin-area shelter, but shelters and budgie societies in Bremen and Hamburg accepted hundreds of them, too.
Officials say the man will have to move out of his apartment, which is now uninhabitable.
"This happens with people who start collecting the animals out of love," Wolfgang Apel said, "but lose control as they multiply, and find themselves completely overwhelmed."
The problem isn't just limited to Germany either. Earlier this month, a couple in the south-western French town of Castelmoron-sur-Lot was discovered living together with 64 dogs in their two-room apartment.