Now he’s the one stuck in a cage.
Majid “Magic” Esmaeili lives in and operates a bird sanctuary near Tampa Bay, Florida, but due to a property dispute with his neighbor, it’s ‘technically illegal’ for him to leave.
Esmaeili owns and operates the Zaksee Parrot Sanctuary in Tampa, Florida, where he takes care of hundreds of rescued parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and other exotic birds. However, the sanctuary is surrounded on all sides by other properties, and the only path out winds through another tract whose owners recently placed locks on the gates — effectively trapping Esmaeili inside.
“I have absolutely no way to get out,” he told a local Fox affliliate.
Esmaeili says he also ran out of food for himself recently, but has been able to subsist on bananas and bamboo shoots that grow in the sanctuary, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
He had been relying on volunteers to bring food for him and the birds, but most volunteers were either senior citizens or students at the nearby colleges — but those resources dried up as the coronavirus began to ravage the state. He says it may be months before his student volunteers come back to the university.
Esmaeili bought the property for the sanctuary from Lynda Fowler, who operates a business of her own next door: In the Breeze Farms Inc., a ranch and horseback riding center that offers programs for children. Esmaeili told the local Fox station that when he bought the property, he came to an understanding with Fowler that he could use a path on her ranch to get to and from his sanctuary.
Fowler told Fox 13 she got tired of Esmaeili for being a bad neighbor, and decided to lock her gate as retribution.
“I operate a horseback riding ranch and children’s camp, and he jumps out of the woods looking like a madman, because he lives back there, and he makes the children cry,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.
In court, Esmaeili said he spent $10,000 and four years to build the entrance that Fowler locked. She won the recent court battle, but Esmaeili and his lawyers, who are working pro bono, say they intend to appeal the case.
“Let’s say he is trying to repair something and breaks his leg. It’s technically illegal for him to leave his property,” said his lawyer Samuel Alexander. “Yet if he calls an ambulance, that ambulance will use the road he built with his bare hands and drive across the In the Breeze property and pick him up.”
Esmaeili has been raising money to buy food and continue fighting his court case with a drive on GoFundMe. He has currently raised over $3,000 from over 100 donors.