Member of the Family

Get to know the cute pets of Ballantyne

By Michael J. Solender

In this web-only feature, we highlight Ballantyne-area residents’ adorable pets. In this installment, we introduce to you, Ziki Matena.


"Ziki is an indoor bird and doesn’t leave home,” says Val Matena. But Ziki does like to ride her skateboard around the living room.
Ziki likes to eat her strawberries by starting with the seeds.

Ziki Matena


Green-rumped parrotlet. These birds are native to tropical South America areas such as the Caribbean regions of Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad, south and east to the Guianas and Brazil, on the lower Amazon River.


Seven years old. Parrotlets can live between 20 and 30 years.


Mom – Val, dad – Dan, sister – Esther. The family lives in the Raintree neighborhood of south Charlotte.

Adoption story

“My husband and I wanted a pet,” says Val Matena. “But as we both travel a fair amount for our jobs, having a dog or cat would be difficult. I grew up with birds, and I thought a small bird with a big personality would be fun. We wanted a bird that would come out of her cage and interact with us. I found a breeder in South Carolina, and we picked up Ziki as a hatchling only two months after she hatched.”

More about her name

“Ziki’s name is short for Tzatziki,” said Matena, referring to the Greek yogurt-based dipping sauce. “The sauce has a green hue, and the name captures her personality. She definitely responds to it and will fly over when we call her.”

Daily Routine

“Ziki gets up when we do,” says Matena, noting the bird spends the night in a covered cage. “She has breakfast with us at the kitchen table. She’s back in the cage when we leave the house. Every few days she’ll take a bath in a bowl of water we leave for her. Sometimes she rides her skateboard. When we are home for the evening, she’ll come out and make sure we know she’s around. She loves to have her head scratched and will even tilt her head from side to side to let us know where she wants to be scratched.”

Favorite places around Ballantyne

“Ziki is an indoor bird and doesn’t leave home,” says Matena. “The living room is her domain and favorite area of the house where she is free to fly when we are home. At one point she did figure out how to open her cage from the inside and got out during the day, but we now tie the door shut when we’re away.”

Defining character traits

“She is the queen of the household for sure,” Matena says of Ziki. “She loves to sit on your shoulder, check out what we’re doing and definitely enjoy mealtime with us. She rings a bell in her cage and just has a ton of personality.”

Favorite food/treats

“Ziki loves cereal, especially Special K,” says Matena, who also shares special treats like berries with Ziki. “She’ll eat the seeds first from a strawberry, picking out each one individually before eating the meat of the fruit.”

Do you live in the Ballantyne area and have a pet you’d like us to consider for this feature? Send an email to with the subject line “Member of the Family” along with your contact information and a photo of your pet