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An Avian Ambassador for Veterinary Medicine

March 28, 2011

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March 28, 2011

"Melanie," a Moluccan cockatoo and the School of Veterinary Medicine's mascot, ambassador and official greeter in the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, has died. 

Michelle Hawkins is chief of the Companion Avian and Exotic Pet Service, or "CAPE," where Melanie had lived since 1998. Hawkins informed members of the veterinary school community Monday, "It is with deep sadness that we write of the passing of our beloved Melanie the cockatoo this past Thursday, March 24. Melanie was born in 1996 and came to the hospital's CAPE service in 1998. Since she was very young, Melanie had suffered from a chronic intestinal disease, which was the reason that she came to live with us at CAPE and the reason for her ultimate passing. Over the past 13 years, she touched the lives and hearts of all who work within the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and throughout the School of Veterinary Medicine."

Thousands of visitors who have toured the teaching hospital, as well as hundreds of elementary school students whose classrooms she visited, have met Melanie, listened to her loud and friendly voice calling "Hello, Melanie," experienced her climbing up an outstretched arm, and laughed as she raised her pinkish crest. She gained a bit more fame in January 1999 when she was stolen from the hospital; fortunately, she was found in Davis within a few days and returned to her perch safe and sound.

"Melanie showed unbiased affection to all but ducks," Hawkins recalls, "and she converted many to become believers in the joys of companion birds. She will be greatly missed by the staff who knew her well and by everyone in the School of Veterinary Medicine community."

Over the weekend, as news spread, clients and others sent the staff flowers and greetings. "The CAPE staff appreciates the flowers that have been sent already," Hawkins says, "but in lieu of flowers we are sure that Melanie would prefer donations be sent to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital Melanie Memorial Fund to help other sick or injured parrots."

To make a gift by check:

Please make checks payable to UC Regents
On memo line or in a separate note, indicate the gift is for the “Melanie Memorial F

Send your donation to:

UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Office of the Dean - Development
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616

To make a gift online:

Visit our Giving website:
Mark the box next to “Area of Greatest Need”
Enter gift amount in the $ box
In Comments box, indicate the gift is for the “Melanie Memorial Fund” 

Thank you.

Lynn Narlesky, Communications, (530) 752-5257,