Molly the magpie reunited with dog best friend after public outcry

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Molly the magpie finally reunites with dog ‘best friend’ after public outcry
WATCH: While dogs and birds are not meant to be friends, social media has been captivated by the close bond between Molly the magpie and Peggy the Staffordshire terrier. Mike Drolet looks at how the unlikely duo came to be, the controversy that separated them, and how common sense eventually helped the pair reunite – Apr 15, 2024

An Instagram-famous magpie and dog duo have been reunited, after their separation became the subject of an Australian scandal.

Molly the magpie is home with his four-legged best friend, Peggy, after wildlife authorities in Australia decided to return the bird to a couple that had been, up until recently, illegally caring for him.

The Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (Desi) granted a special licence to Juliette Wells and Reece Mortensen to care for the bird. The agency held Molly for six weeks after the Gold Coast couple say they were pressured to surrender him.

But Molly’s internet fans proved to be a force to be reckoned with, and the issue of Molly and Peggy’s separation reached international news sites and landed on the desk of the Queensland premier. A petition for Molly and Peggy to be reunited garnered more than 155,000 signatures.

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On Monday, Wells and Reece announced that Molly was home again on the “Peggy and Molly” Instagram account — a page that documents the unlikely friendship between the wild Australian magpie they rescued as a chick in 2020, and Peggy, their English Staffordshire terrier.

The couple’s videos show the pair of inter-species besties playing together outside and napping with each other. One video even shows Molly imitating the sound of a dog barking. The couple say Molly also has a strong bond with Peggy’s daughter Ruby, and was there when Peggy gave birth.

In the post announcing Molly’s return, Wells and Mortensen write that they are “overwhelmed with emotion.”

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The couple picked up Molly at a Desi office, and they write that the bird let out “a little cry of happiness.”

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When they arrived home with the magpie, Peggy and Ruby were wagging their tails with excitement.

“The Peggy & Ruby wiggly bottoms were in full force,” they wrote.

“We are so grateful to you our supporters , QLD Premier Steven Miles & the DESI for allowing us to get our licence & to be reunited with Molly again. We look forward to life settling back down to normal very soon.”

Queensland Premier Steven Miles had previously shown his support for Molly being returned to the couple, saying “common sense needs to prevail.”

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Desi says it returned Molly following “extensive legal advice” and consulting expert vets who found that the magpie was “highly habituated” to human care and could not be returned to the wild, the BBC reports.

The licence that allows Wells and Mortensen to own Molly comes with some conditions, however, including undertaking wildlife training and showing evidence that Molly is healthy and thriving. In addition, the couple are barred from profiting off the bird.

This condition may interfere with some of the business ventures the couple have undertaken that use Molly’s likeness and story.

Wells released a book about Peggy and Molly through Penguin Books Australia. The Peggy and Molly social media pages continue to promote the sale of the book.

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When the couple surrendered Molly in March, they posted a video to their Instagram page explaining that Mortensen had tried to obtain a wildlife licence for Molly previously, but, “after a period of time I had to retract my application as it was a bit of a conflict to our page.”

He didn’t elaborate on what the conflict was, but a commenter on their page wondered if it was because a licence would prohibit the couple from posting photos and videos of Molly.

Before Molly was returned, Wells and Mortensen told Australia’s ABC News that they hadn’t made much money off the bird.

“My intention was not to make money,” Wells said.

“We can’t make a living on the money that’s been made — definitely not,” Mortensen added.

Wells and Mortensen have not publicly commented on how they will adhere to the conditions of the licence going forward, or if any changes to their social media presence will be in order.

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