Genghis rules the roost, and he likes it that way. He’s a rising star, and at 19 there’s no stopping him now. No, really, sulphur-crested cockatoos can live to be 100 or so years old. His recent acting gig was in the XXXX beer commercial promoting Queensland Maroons State of Origin limited-edition cans. The comical advertisement included Maroons players training 10,000 sulphur-crested cockatoos to fly over NSW screeching: “Maroons!”
On the day of filming, Genghis had to be quickly crate-trained because this diva was not getting on too well with his cast. This cheeky cockatoo likes to play games, and his cast mates were simply too professional to have fun with him on set. Between breaks in his dressing room, this defiant lad chose to ignore the bird trainer on set, so owners Sam and Chris Symons had to step in.
“He doesn’t know how to fly point to point on command yet, but he does like to play a game with Chris where he’ll swoop his head playfully,” said Sam. “So that’s how we got him doing what the director was after. The shot looks great, but Chris’s head didn’t fare too well.”
The couple have had Genghis since he was a chick, and he was the first bird they owned together. Now at The Funky Farm in Hastings they’ve got about 250 animals — yes, they aren’t 100 per cent sure of the current head count. And can you blame them? They’ve got their hands full feeding, caring, training and housing all of their animals and keeping the cheeky Genghis under control. He’s cage-free and roams around the farm helping himself to copper wiring, which sends their electrician crazy and forces him to think of inventive ways in which to hide all of the wiring on site. The celebrity cockatoo’s human sister Ziva is a little cautious of the mischievous birdy yet is happy to play with the farm’s dingoes, so that shows you just how naughty this one can be. Genghis’s diet consists of almonds, with no greens in sight, and hot chips when he can steal them.
“He recognises the McDonald’s bag the minute you get out of the car,” said Sam. “You’ve got to get inside quickly. He generally has a flavour of the month to chew on, whether it’s a fence paling or a half wine barrel garden pot. He’s always destroying something.”
Not to be too cocky, but he’s also hung out with all of the celebrities at the Melbourne Cup a few years ago, and got a photo with Marcia Hines and Todd McKenney. When we last spoke to the minds behind The Funky Farm in 2017, we were told they’d be opening soon. However, the demands of Hollywood just keep getting in the way. The pair even spent three months filming Ride Like a Girl, so zoo life got a little hectic. They’ve just announced group bookings of a minimum of 10 people to get up close and personal with their zoo animals. For $40 per adult, $25 for under-16s, and free entry for those kiddies under three, you can have endless animal encounters and photo opportunities for birthday parties, school events and special needs groups.
See Fluffy the crocodile, Hamish the highland cow, as well as pythons, dingoes, macaws and other Australian animals on Instagram and Facebook @thefunkyfarm. For further information and to meet the celebrity Genghis himself, visit www.thefunkyfarm.com.au or call 1300 FUNKYF.