It’s a tale as old as time: the hooker with a heart of gold makes good. Heidi Fleiss, who earned the nickname of the “Hollywood Madam” as the former head of a prostitution ring, is now trying to make a name for herself as an advocate for avian rights.
The 44-year-old will soon be coming to a TV near you, starring in a new bird-themed reality series on Animal Planet. Shooting on the pilot will begin soon, and the show will focus on her day-to-day caring and training of the 20 exotic birds, including macaws and parrots, that she keeps uncaged on her 10-acre compound outside Las Vegas.
Fleiss revealed that she originally took on the exotic birds to fulfill a friend’s deathbed wish. “I’m a madam and skin trader,” she said. “I’m not the type of person who has pets.”
But before anyone freaks out over the idea of a former madam and drug addict taking responsibility for these animals, it should be noted that Fleiss won’t be encouraging people to purchase imported birds and she has been an outspoken activist for them. In 2009 she bulldozed her way into a PetSmart Inc.’s annual meeting in New York City to beg the retailer to stop the sale of exotic birds. Fleiss spoke on behalf of PETA, as the group has alleged that the chain store has sold “sick and suffering” birds to its customers.
“Birds are meant to fly, not be caged,” Fleiss said at the meeting. ”They’re extraordinary creatures that are complex, intelligent and require a huge commitment,” she added.
You can expect to see Fleiss’ new series to take flight sometime in late 2011.