Echo the Singing Bird

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"When we learned that Echo, our singing and talking parrot, and Sarah Hoeft, our bird trainer, were invited to audition on televisionís Americaís Got Talent Season Six we couldnít have been more excited," said Dana Montana, owner of Animal Gardens theme park in Delavan, Wis.

Dana described the 15-year-old effervescent double yellow headed Amazon parrot as a consummate performer: "Heís a little bird with a big heart," she said, adding, "The more people offer applause, the better he likes it."

Echo and Sarah formed their training and performing partnership five year ago, and the two have dazzled Animal Gardenís audiences ever since. Sarah began her career with Animal Gardens as a horse trainer eight years ago when the park opened, and soon added loving, kind and patient bird handler to her repertoire of skills. Both she and Echo have been mentored by Lynn Shinkle, a professional animal trainer who brings over 30 years of bird training and performing experience to the team.

"Sarah does a great job. She talks to them (the parrots) and cares for them like they are pets," Lynn said. Of Echo, she said: ĎHe is the best bird Iíve ever worked."

Echoís many talents include singing and lively banter with his trainer. He sings four songs: "Jingle Bells," "Happy Birthday," "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and his vocabulary is extensive; he has over 50 vocalizations, Dana said.

Americaís Got Talent is one of the most competitive talent searches in the country. It is an honor that he was given this opportunity and we at Animal Gardens are very proud," she said.

Echo has enjoyed the national spotlight before. In 2005, he appeared on both Animal Planetís Pet Star and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

He regularly shares the stage at Animal Gardens with other performing exotic birds that ride bikes and scooters, paint, and play precision games, but Echo is the most vocal. He brings what appear to be human qualities to the Animal Gardenís stage. It shows though the sparkle in his eyes as well as his many gestures. And when he performs, joy and laughter spread across audience membersí faces.

"We canít wait for a national audience to experience the thrill we see daily with this feathered treasure," Dana said.

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