LAFAYETTE — Broussard police and Zoo of Acadiana officials on Thursday were still trying to figure why a New Iberia businessman driving a BMW with a handgun and wad of cash would steal three exotic birds from the zoo.

Yong Cun Su, 35, was ejected from the BMW before it caught fire. He was later pronounced dead from his injuries at a local hospital.

Caught inside Su’s burning sport utility vehicle early Wednesday morning were Kiwi, Senny and Baby Blue, three parrots taken from the zoo.

Senny, a Senegal parrot, was killed in the crash. Baby Blue, an African ring neck parrot, flew out of the BMW after the fire was put out and remained loose Thursday evening.

Zoo officials say their most heart-heavy loss is Kiwi, a caique parrot that zoo official Lea Loftin said was a favorite among the public. Kiwi died overnight at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in Baton Rouge, where he was taken after crawling out of the vehicle on one leg, suffering bleeding eyes.

Zoo owner George Oldenburg on Wednesday vowed to spare no expense in treating Kiwi. On Thursday, Oldenburg was unavailable for comment.

Loftin said zoo personnel received word of Kiwi’s death from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine on Thursday at around 9 a.m.

“The LSU veterinary staff kept him comfortable with pain medications,” Loftin said Thursday. “They came in this morning and made their rounds, then they contacted us and told us he had passed away sometime during the night.”

Decou said Thursday that detectives had questioned Su’s family and still couldn’t state a motive for the theft of the parrots in the middle of the night. He said Su’s wife and three children “were taking it pretty rough” and that they had no answers for detectives.

“The (cash) value of Kiwi was not much,” Loftin said. “He was a little bird but his personality was larger than life.

“He was silly and loved to dance, whistle at the ladies and such,” Loftin said. “I used to pass by him every day. He’d whistle and I’d go ‘oh, thank you Kiwi. You made my day.’ ”

Oldenburg called 911 at a little after 2 a.m. Wednesday to report that someone in a car had parked near the veterinary clinic at the rear of the zoo. Oldenburg said someone was walking from the car to the clinic and back, carrying bird cages.

Broussard police were waiting on the BMW driver, who turned out to be Su, when he pulled away from the zoo.

Chief Decou said Su accelerated the BMW once he saw police, losing the officers as he sped toward Broussard, then crashing into trees in a residential area.

Decou said officers found “several thousand dollars” and a .38-caliber handgun in Su’s BMW. Decou also said Su owned a restaurant in New Iberia.

According to the Louisiana secretary of state’s website, which lists corporation agents and officers, Su was an officer of New Cajun Fried Chicken in St. Martinville. Efforts to contact the other listed agent, Zhen Hong Chen, or get the business’ phone number were unsuccessful.

Decou said the case remains open.

“It’s just such a sad story,” Loftin said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Zoo of Acadiana video tribute to Kiwi