NEW YORK, June 19 (UPI) -- Heidi Fleiss, who gained infamy as the "Hollywood madam," has a new cause, advocating for the rights of exotic birds in the United States.
Fleiss attended the PetSmart annual meeting Wednesday in New York, The Arizona Republic reported. She was there to persuade the chain, based in Phoenix, to stop selling imported birds.
When a dying friend asked Fleiss to give a collection of birds a home, she said she reluctantly agreed.
"I'm a madam and skin trader," she said. "I'm not the type of person who has pets."
But Fleiss became fascinated by her new charges, describing them as "complex" and "intelligent." She told PetSmart executives most people do not understand how to provide for birds' needs and said they should be able to fly, instead of living in a cage.
Fleiss, who spent almost two years in prison for promoting prostitution, now lives with 20 exotic tropical birds on 10 acres near Las Vegas. She is also involved in the sex trade with plans to open a brothel for a female clientele, to be called the Stud Farm.