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The featherless pet cockatoo living his best life in Australia

Eleven-year-old Sookie has become a big hit on the internet, and it's not hard to see why.

In Sookie's eyes, he's just like any other cockatoo.

"He can quite often see the wild cockatoos from his cage and he knows they're the same as him," his owner Carly tells Yahoo News Australia. "As far as he's concerned, there is no difference."

But the obvious difference is, of course, they have feathers and he doesn't. Eleven-year-old Sookie has the untreatable Psittacine Beak and Feather disease (PBFD) which in many cases can cause affected parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets to lose their feathers. It can also cause abnormal beaks and claws, however if only the feathers are impacted, as is the case for Sookie, they can live a pretty normal life.

Sookie is a character that's brought joy to many online. Source: Supplied
Sookie is a character that's brought joy to many online. Source: Supplied

"It doesn't faze him. He's a beautiful boy... he's really intelligent and talks like a trooper. He does swear a lot unfortunately," Carly revealed.

And it's that cheeky personality that has won over his fans online, with Carly regularly taking to an Australian cockatoo Facebook group to share pictures and videos of Sookie which she says is a great way to educate people on PBFD.

"It took a while for people to understand what he had. Some thought he was unhealthy and was plucking out his feathers," she said.

Sookie is treated to outside time on occasions. Source: Supplied
Sookie is treated to outside time on occasions. Source: Supplied

PBFD can be devastating in the wild

PBFD is highly contagious however Sookie doesn't interact with other birds and Carly and her husband take extra care cleaning hands and clothing to avoid any spread in Taree, where they live on NSW's Mid North Coast. "He does like quite a lot of cage time as that's his safe space," Carly revealed.

WIRES Vet Dr Tania Bishop told Yahoo earlier this year it can be devastating in the wild after an increase in sightings of cockatoos with PBFD.

"We've got a few threatened and endangered species of parrots now [and] the last thing we want is for [it] to kill chicks or parents that are threatened," she said.

Sookie was fully feathered before he began to lose his feathers before his second birthday. Source: Supplied
Sookie was fully feathered before he began to lose his feathers before his second birthday. Source: Supplied

As PBFD causes a lower immune system, Carly feeds Sookie a meticulous healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Sookie spent 18 months with feathers

Carly revealed for the first 18 months Sookie was fully feathered. They were told he was PBFD-free by their breeder however they later learnt that his mother had it.

"When he moulted for the first time, he basically never grew back feathers," she said. But they consider themselves lucky Sookie has avoided symptoms such as balance issues that have a much greater impact on the birds' quality of life.

Overall he's lived a relatively pain-free 11 years, with many more to come, Carly – as well as his many admirers online – hope.

"It warms our hearts that our little boy can possibly grab someone else's."

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