Toyota the sulphur-crested cockatoo.
Toyota the sulphur-crested cockatoo.

Calls to free 'imprisoned' live mascot from dealership

ANIMAL activists are calling for the release of a cockatoo which has been used as a mascot at a Tweed car dealership for about 30 years.

A petition, which has attracted nearly 2000 signatures in just under a week, claims Toyota the Australian native sulphur-crested cockatoo is being held "caged and captive as an isolated prisoner" at Hayes Toyota in Murwillumbah.

A Facebook page has also been set up urging for the bird's freedom.

"Toyota lives a lonely and frustrated life in a barren double cage on an industrial site in Murwillumbah at the local Toyota dealership," the petition reads.

"His cage is positioned in a car sales lot on the bitumen where he is subjected to loud noise, the weather and traffic fumes.

"Toyota is denied the company of his own species. During the day Toyota can see and hear other native birds including cockatoos flying above and nearby and must despair that he can't join his own kind."

Toyota in his cage.

The petition goes on to state Toyota is used once a year as an "advertising gimmick" at the Murwillumbah Show, while on weekends and public holidays he is left alone in a dark shed.

Life member of the Animal Welfare League NSW and ex-state candidate for the Animal Justice Party, Susie Hearder, is one of several concerned members behind the petition.

She said community members had approached management at Hayes Toyota about the issue but they were "not at all open to any suggestions".

"The owner basically considers Toyota his property and hasn't been open to any suggestions to rehome the bird," Ms Hearder said.

"We've offered to buy the bird, we've even offered to give him extra food and toys, but that has been rejected.

"All we're concerned about is the quality of life. As an end result we'd like him to be released into a proper bird sanctuary. His needs clearly aren't being met where they are."

Ms Hearder said the group was now attempting to work with Toyota Australia to solve the issue.

"We're in correspondence with Toyota and hoping with a group effort we can get some result," she said.

"The owner hasn't been at all open to any suggestions or alternative measures with previous attempts, so we're trying other avenues to help."

A message from Toyota Australia to a concerned member said it was aware of the issue.

"Toyota Australia are aware of recent concerns about a cockatoo at a Toyota dealership," a representative said.

"We are working with the dealer to assist."

The Tweed Daily News has contacted Hayes Toyota for comment.