City Island says goodbye to celebrity rooster

A friendly rooster that had been living at Hollywood Barbershop on City Island for almost three months is now living out his days at a bird sanctuary in the Berkshires.

Coco, who was rescued after a cockfight by the barbershop’s owner Alex Mullokandov, had become something of a local celebrity on City Island Avenue.

“We pass by daily and see him, and she loves it,” said Dawn Rosado about her daughter, Hope. Rosado lives next door to the barbershop and brought Hope over to see Coco off on Friday, August 6. “Say goodbye!” she told her little girl.

Mullokandov stumbled across the rooster, nearly dead, after a cockfight on the Grand Concourse. He was bleeding and his wing—which still has a metal tag with his fighting number clipped to it today—was damaged.

Mullokandov, who has experience with farm animals, took him home and nursed him back to health. Since then, the bird had hung out in the barber shop, until Mullokandov was notified by local officials, including Bill Stanton, president of the City Island Civic Association, that the bird had to go.

“I didn’t know it’s illegal in New York,” said Mullokandov. “The city is not the place for him, I guess, but I’ll miss him.”

The quest to find a more appropriate home for the bird began about a month ago, when Senator Jeff Klein got involved. Finally, just about 35 days after Mullokandov was told he had 30 days to get rid of the bird, someone from Riverdale who saw the story in the newspaper called Klein’s office and suggested Berkshire Bird Paradise Sanctuary in Petersburgh, New York.

Arrangements were made and on Friday afternoon, August 6, Klein and his staff showed up at Hollywood Barbershop to retrieve the bird.

“Animal cruelty has no place in our society,” declared Klein, who said he was happy to help. After speaking to reporters, Mullokandov gave the senator some time with Coco, encouraging him to hold the bird. “That’s some drumstick,” joked Klein while examining Coco.

Of course, all jokes aside, the last thing Mullokandov wants is for Coco to end up on a dinner plate. He specifically requested that Coco be brought to a place where he’d live happily and be well-treated.

“They said I could come up there once in a while,” he said, “and they promised to send me photos of him, too.”

Not everyone felt it was fair to have Coco booted from the neighborhood.

“We should get five or six more of these,” said Bill Mitchell, who has lived on the Island since the 1930s and was getting his hair cut when Klein and his entourage showed up to take Coco. “They could call it civic improvement. This is a great bird.”

Mullokandov decided that even though Coco has become a friend to locals, it’s better that he be at the farm. His partner at the barbershop, Boris Aronov, agreed.

“He’s like a family member,” he said, “but this is a good thing. Better he should be with other birds.”

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