A community is mourning the loss of a longtime pet store mascot.
Tiki, a female scarlet macaw, became Denny’s Pet World official mascot a few years after the store opened in 1974. She died Feb. 4. She was 45 years old.
John Fleshman, the owner of Denny’s Pet World, said he and his staff knew it was coming.
“She was getting older and getting sick and losing weight,” he said. “But it’s still hard even though we knew it was coming. She’s been with us for so long—been a part of the family.”
Tiki was never caged. In the store, she had a large, open perch in a corner of the store. Customers would interact with her and take pictures.
“She was a big hit with the customers. She liked the attention. She had a limited vocabulary but would usually say, ‘Hi,’ ‘Hello,’ ‘Pretty bird,’ and ‘Mamma,’” Fleshman said.
Fleshman said Tiki had a lasting effect on the community. Over the years, Fleshman would bring Tiki to convalescent homes to share her with patients. He also collected her feathers because children wanted to use her feathers for constructing kites.
“Everyone loved her,” he said.
Upon announcing Tiki’s passing on the store’s Facebook page, Fleshman said he was overwhelmed by the large number of comments from the community.
“I was blown away…I had no idea how attached the customers were to her,” he said.
As of Feb. 10, the Facebook post has about 400 comments — each expressing sorrow for Tiki’s passing as well as numerous customer photos and memories.
Most of the commenters said they grew up with Tiki and they always looked forward to seeing her at the store.
Laura Hook has been the manager for Denny’s Pet Store for 25 years.
“It’s so quiet around here without her,” she said. “She was such a lovey, snuggly bird. She had such a sense of humor too. She would do something naughty and then giggle…She’s definitely left a hole in our hearts.”
Hook said customers have been coming in an expressing their condolences for Tiki.
“She was a real bird of the community,” she said. “She touched everybody. It’s been amazing to see how she’s touched several generations in the community.”
Fleshman’s fiancée, Julia Marshall, said flowers and a small plaque have been placed by Tiki’s perch.
The sign reads:
“It is with great sadness that we announce that Tiki passed away Feb. 4. She was with Denny’s Pet World for over 43 years and will be greatly missed.”
Marshall said her remains are being cremated. There will be a formal memorial service for Tiki within the next few weeks.