Grand Oaks Nursing Center gets a new cockatoo to replace a beloved pet

BALDWIN—Ghandi, the pet cockatoo, was a long-time fixture at the Grand Oaks Nursing Center for more than 20 years. When Ghandi died a little while back, his absence was gnawing on residents of the nursing center, who viewed the bird like a good friend.

For Ken Kauffman, president of the Residential Council at Grand Oaks, getting a replacement bird was very important and an effort was put forth to replace the bird with another male cockatoo. 

“The animal therapy is something that makes this facility great,” Kauffman said. “When I went to therapy people gathered to watch Ghandi. I would whistle, and he would look at me and whistle back.”

Lynn Kyte, laundry and housekeeping supervisor, took care of the bird every morning for the past 20 years. “I enjoyed it. I took it out of the cage and talked to it,” she said. 

The replacement cockatoo, Sam, arrived this past week. 

“Sam is 4 years old and was donated to us by a family that had him for a pet. The parents checked with their 11-year-old boy to see if he wanted to donate the bird to the nursing home, and the boy was willing,” said Kauffman. “The bird is in a completely different setting and is receiving so much attention here. I am sure it will take some getting used to.”

Kauffman said research has shown how therapeutic pets are to those living in nursing homes and can have positive effects of physical, emotional and mental factors.