Parrot that lives at a North Carolina restaurant turns 30


JACKSONVILLE — A Jacksonville icon has turned 30 years old.

Jojac, the blue-and-gold macaw, has lived at the Marina Cafe since he was 4 years old.

“My brother is Bob,” said Marina Cafe General Manager Catherine Fountain. “He acquired the restaurant in 1997, I believe, and somebody owed him, and they decided that they’d pay him with a bird. They wheeled him in, in his cage that he’s in right now.

“The rest is history.”

Jojac’s name comes from the pet store in the mall he came from, though the store is no longer there. The owner’s kids’ names were Joseph and Jackie, hence Jojac.

Jojac turned 30 on Jan. 9, but macaws in captivity can live between 60 and 80 years, according to Fountain, so Jojac is still pretty young.

Though his life was threatened back in 2008, when he was stolen.

“We had a kitchen fire and we were closed for renovation and somebody broke in that window, and stole him on a Thursday,” Fountain said. “Then they listed him on Friday on Lejeune Yard Sales as if no one would know who he belonged to. We got him back on Sunday.”

Fountain said macaws like Jojac are one of the largest types of parrots, and he weighs about 3 pounds. The patterns on their faces are like fingerprints, every one is different. The white part of his face is skin, and the black are feathers.

Jojac also doesn’t fly. Fountain said he doesn’t really have the knowledge to fly, never really learned to, and he probably doesn’t even have the muscle tone.

He definitely doesn’t know how to land.

“He has flown twice, when something startled him,” Fountain said. “One time he landed in the water right in the little area there, and one time it was out in the woods and that terrified him. The first time he flew, we clipped his wings. Then we never clipped them again. They’ve grown out fully.”

Jojac also loves to talk.

Fountain said he usually talks the most at night, but he says “hello” and “pretty bird.” “Hello,” he can say in seven different voices. He also says “hey buddy,” in a country accent, “what’s up,” “what’s your name,” as well as a couple of inappropriate phrases, which Fountain did not repeat.

The bite of his beak has tremendous pressure, according to Fountain, and can even take off a finger. He eats a combination of fruit and vegetable mixture from Tractor Supply, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts. Though he isn’t opposed to trying to steal customers’ food.

Despite his friendliness now, Jojac hasn’t always been very fond of people.

“We were a club way back in the day,” Fountain said. “We were open until 2 a.m. He was cared for well, but it was hard to pay attention to what was going on at night. So, he wasn’t very fond of people.”

She said during COVID-19, when they were shut down, she worked with him a lot, taking him outside, holding him, handling him, and then she started putting him on people’s arms.

She said there are now even a few people he really lets handle him.

A fairly new employee, Paul Brewster, has made it his goal to make Jojac like him. Jojac lets Brewster pet him sometimes, and Brewster said he loves his personality.

Jojac lives fully at the restaurant, spending the night in his cage. Though during the summer, he does hang out outside and only goes to his cage when he’s in timeout for eating customers’ food.

“People always ask, ‘Do you bring him home at night,’ and I’m like, ‘Have you heard him scream?’ Apparently not, he is loud. He also does not like dogs, and I have dogs.”

She said he also has no interest in other birds. But, to Fountain, Jojac is her baby, and they have a great bond.

For those interested in learning more about Jojac, he has an Instagram page. You can follow him at @jojac_the_macaw, or stop by the Marina Cafe to visit him, and wish him a belated happy birthday.

The Marina Cafe is located at 110 S. Marine Blvd. in Jacksonville. You can visit their Facebook page, or their website at, for more information.