REAL LIFE

My Cockatoo Catches The Tram

Mark’s beaky bestie was destined for stardom!
  • Mark Salim, 27, from Russell Lea, NSW, was delighted to meet Cookie the cockatoo when his brother Ameer brought him home.
  • Mark loved it when Cookie danced outside his shop, bringing joy to people walking by.
  • He decided to bring Cookie out for adventures around Sydney – even catching the tram together!

Here Mark tells his story in his own words.

After a long day at work painting houses, I was keen to put up my feet.

Back at home, my mum Waheeda was cooking chicken pasta, while my dad Yousif watched TV with my siblings Milad and Rivon.

‘Mmm, that smells delicious,’ I called out, shutting the front door.

As we chatted, my older brother Ameer arrived home with a yellow-crested cockatoo in his arms.

‘What is this?’ Dad asked, concerned.

‘This is Cookie,’ said Ameer.

He explained his friend had bought Cookie from a local bird owner, but couldn’t take care of him as the parrot required a lot of attention.

‘I thought we could look after him,’ Ameer said.

Worried the bird would create mess in the house, Dad agreed we could keep Cookie for a week before finding him a forever home.

But just three days later, we were all smitten with our new feathered friend.

Cookie the cockatoo
Cookie at the shops (Credit: Supplied.)

‘Cookie loves bopping to dance music.’

‘Hello,’ I said to Cookie.

‘Hello! Hello!’ he repeated.

The next evening, Dad was dancing to Assyrian songs in the lounge room, and Cookie began to mimic his every move.

We roared with laughter.

All talk about rehoming Cookie went out the window!

Just two months later, we enjoyed our first Christmas with our beautiful bird.

He loved perching on Mum’s shoulder as she put together the festive feast.

In March 2020, when the first COVID lockdown hit, I launched Cookie’s TikTok page – cookie.sydney.

On the platform, I began sharing funny videos of Cookie bopping to music, learning new words, and playing games with me and my brothers.

It’s fun bringing joy to people during bleak times, I thought.

I also began taking walks around the neighbourhood with Cookie on my shoulder.

People always stopped to greet him, and he adored the attention.

In January 2021, as restrictions continued to ease, I opened up a convenience store.

Cookie loved performing outside the shop, bopping to dance music.

Seeing his videos on TikTok, fans started coming to the store to watch Cookie!

‘Can Cookie dance at my party next week?’ someone asked one day.

Mark and Cookie
Mark with Cookie the cockatoo (Credit: Supplied.)

‘They all chuckled and waved hello at Cookie.’

‘We’d love to pay you for Cookie to perform at our club!’ another insisted.

By November, I decided to sell my shop and focus full time on Cookie.

Becoming a local celebrity, our brave birdie had bookings all over town for his sweet dance moves.

Often Cookie and I would roam Sydney’s tourist spots, and strangers would recognise him from TikTok!

In May, Cookie caught the tram for the first time.

I hope we don’t get fined for this, I thought, nervous.

As we walked along the platform, I noticed the rail workers. They all chuckled and waved hello at Cookie.

Phew! I thought.

With my smartcard in his beak, Cookie tapped on and paid to take a ride around the city. Everyone watched him, giggling in delight.

Cookie has brought joy to everyone’s lives.

I’m so grateful for my sassy sidekick.

Related stories