March 24, 2020 / 5:29 PM / 4 days ago

Squawking parrot warns the world: 'Coronavirus! Don't go out!'

Luca, a parrot that has learnt to mimic and say the words, "there is corona" and "don't go out" amid the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, looks at its owner, Zehava Shabat in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Eli Berlzon

KIRYAT SHMONA, Israel (Reuters) - A talking parrot in Israel has a playful message for a world gripped by the coronavirus crisis: “Don’t go out!”

In crystal-clear Hebrew, Luca the parrot squawks “there is corona” and “don’t go out”, repeatedly echoing official health warnings.

Israel has ordered people to stay at home to slow the contagion’s spread and billboards reinforce the message in Hebrew and Arabic.

The 22-month-old grey parrot began to mimic the words after training with its owners, who like many Israelis have been alarmed by their country’s more than 1,600 cases and one death.

Zehava Shabat says she and her husband spent several days teaching the bird the new words while holed up in their home in Kiryat Shmona, in northern Israel.

“Then, one morning, two days ago, we hear her saying: Zehava, there is corona! It’s dangerous!”

Shabat, 53, says Luca may help children cope with the crisis.

“For kids, when they see a parrot, the message is positive. They will understand it, in a positive way,” she said.

Reporting by Eli Berzlon; Editing by Giles Elgood

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