“Peggy and Molly” Developed An Odd Connection: Their Split Has Angered Supporters

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Peggy and Molly

It seemed like “Peggy and Molly” belonged on the internet. Peggy is a robust and powerful Staffordshire bull terrier, and Molly is an Australian magpie, who is more famous for swooping on people during mating season than for mingling with canines. Since their peculiar friendship was revealed online four years ago, the pair has gained over two million Instagram and Facebook followers. However, Peggy and Molly’s owners, Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen, revealed that the animals had been split apart in a tearful video that was uploaded online on Tuesday. Wells stated, “We are very sorry to have to make this announcement today.” Online, fans didn’t take long to demand justice. One user commented on Instagram, saying, “This is a classic example of bureaucracy over common sense and humanity.” The remark received over 1,000 likes and stated, “Our tax-payer funded departments should be using their resources to help out the community and save mids-treated wildlife, not harm them!!” In contrast, a representative for the Department of Science and Innovation (DESI) said in a statement that the bird had been maintained with “no permit, license or authority” after being “illegally” removed from the wild. The statement went on, “Animals in rehabilitation must not associate with domestic animals due to the potential for stress, behavioral imprinting, and disease transmission.” 

According to renowned behavioral ecologist and bird specialist Darryl Jones of Griffith University, magpies are extremely gregarious and clever birds. There is no doubt about what ought to happen next, he told the media: “That animal now believes it is a member of that family. The people ought to get it back.”

Everyone Not Pleased With The Outcome Of “Peggy and Molly” Being Advertised

A lengthy Facebook post claimed that Molly had been abandoned as a chick when Wells discovered her in a nearby park. We knew this small bird would not have a chance since the park was an off-leash dog park in the afternoons where up to thirty dogs of various types ran about frantically.  We decided to bring him home and provide for him, like any animal lover would do,” the message said.

We aimed to reintroduce this magpie into the wild, so over the following several months, we trained him to fly, feed, and spend as much time outside as we could. Molly, however, stayed and became close to their dog, Peggy. Wells shared pictures of the animals on social media throughout the epidemic along with inspirational sayings like “Days spent with you are my favorite days” and “You are my happy place.” An enormous internet fan base was drawn to the creatures Peggy and Molly. After printing and selling calendars and t-shirts, a contract was reached with one of the largest publishers in the nation. “Heart-warming photos and simple life lessons about what it means to be a true friend and how we can all learn to be kind, humble, and happy” was how the book that resulted, “Peggy and Molly,” was advertised. However, not everyone was pleased with the outcome. Wildlife officials were concerned that other people may take their example and domesticate wild creatures to make money online. It’s unknown how much money Wells and Mortensen brought in from the associated products. However, in 2022, a GoFundMe effort earned about $66,000 enabling them to help purchase the house they had been renting. Now, Wells and Mortensen are organizing an online campaign to put pressure on the authorities to return the bird, which is an Australian-protected species. A petition on the internet asking for the animals’ reunion has gathered around 70,000 signatures. The pair said in their internet post, “We are questioning why a wild Magpie can’t decide for himself where he wants to live and who he wants to spend his time with.” The DESI stated in their statement that because the bird had grown “highly habituated to human contact,” there was no way to release it back into the wild.

According to the announcement, it would be housed at a facility where its stay may be extended because magpies have been known to live up to 30 years. Taking the chick home was “the worst possible thing that [the couple] could have done,” according to Griffith University professor Jones, who has authored a book about his own experience rearing a magpie. There is a difference between letting birds walk around your property and bringing them inside your home, he said, adding that feeding birds is popular in Australia, where “every second person you meet is feeding a magpie somewhere.” “Taking wild animals and keeping them as pets is not a smart idea. There are strict regulations about that kind of stuff since it is not something that should be advised, according to Jones. However, because Peggy and Molly have grown to be a family pet, the DESI’s return would be ideal.

“The authorities could state that after careful consideration, we have determined that returning the magpie to its family is the best course of action for its welfare,” he added. The CEO of Wildlife Rescue Australia, Bernard Ashcroft, stated that there is an excellent reason why it is illegal for individuals to keep wild animals as pets. “Having a magpie just because it appeals to someone is inappropriate. They might do some damage if they don’t know what they’re doing,” he warned. “Nutritional needs vary among different birds.” On Thursday, the agency issued a second statement in which it admitted that Molly’s surrender was an “emotive issue.”

The statement read, “The continued welfare of the magpie is our top priority. The bird is safe, undergoing rehabilitation, and has full access to veterinary care.” According to the agency, it was looking into legal alternatives for Molly’s future living circumstances. Despite serving as environment minister previously, the premier was a strong supporter of the bird’s restoration to the Gold Coast family. He urged “common sense” to win out in March, stating that the bird should be returned to Juliette and Reece, who had been taking care of it since 2020 after they were accused of stealing it from the wild without a license, permission, or other authorization. Wildlife specialists, who think the bird was housed “illegally” at the site, were incensed by his words. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, sources inside the state environment agency (DESI) said they were “thrown under a bus” when Miles weighed in on the situation and seemed to undercut their attempts to give the bird a fresh lease on life. 

According to the ABC, Miles disputes giving in to pressure from social media to become involved in the case, saying instead that it was a “common sense” move. “The choice between having Molly in a sanctuary or worse still, euthanased, versus being in a home where he’s cared by carers that care for [him] as well as surrounded by other animals, I think it’s a better outcome,” the premier stated. “Either a sanctuary or euthanasia is required under the laws. I wouldn’t want any of that to occur.” Just hours after Peggy and Molly were reunited, two additional pictures of Peggy and Molly appeared online on Tuesday. Queensland Premier Stephen Miles subsequently paid the family a surprise visit at their house.

In a video posted to his TikTok profile, Miles can be seen inside the family house, petting Molly on his shoulder and giving Peggy a back rub. “Stopped by to visit a friend. “I appreciate being invited to meet Peggy and Molly and Ruby by Reece and Juliette,” the caption says.