SAN LUIS, Ariz. -- Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of San Luis discovered two live parrots concealed inside an Elmo doll.
Officers referred a California couple for an intensive agriculture inspection when they attempted to enter the United States on July 1.
During the inspection, a CBP agriculture specialist located a bag of mangoes with seeds. Another agriculture specialist then asked to inspect the passenger's Elmo doll. An X-ray of the doll revealed an anomaly inside and the doll was cut open, revealing two live conures.
The prohibited birds and fruit were seized under the Animal Health Protection Act and the Plant Protection Act. The couple were fined $300, which they agreed to pay by mail, and released without further incident.
The birds were placed in a quarantine isolation crate and transferred to a USDA-Veterinary Services bird-holding facility. The seized mangoes were destroyed on site.
Pet birds are regulated since they can carry viral and bacterial diseases of concern, including avian influenza, Exotic Newcastle Disease and psittacosis.