Border guards in Belarus said they had foiled an attempt to smuggle 277 parrots into the ex-Soviet state – aboard a bicycle.
Spokesman Alexander Tishchenko said the smuggler abandoned his bicycle and cargo – contained in six cages – and fled back over the border into Ukraine when confronted late on Tuesday at the crossing point of Dubki.
"The cages were fixed to an ordinary bicycle. The parrots were stuffed inside like sardines, 40 to 50 to a cage," he said. "You can imagine what it was like. This was sheer barbarism. Those poor birds."
Two birds had died while the others were kept overnight at the border post.
They were then handed over to veterinary inspectors with the eventual aim of offering them to pet shops in the country of 10 million wedged between Russia and three European Union members.
Belarussian border guards last year detained a 19-year-old Russian who was trying to dig his way under the border into Poland using nothing more than a mug.)