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This is in response to some letters
I get every month about the plight of the large 'Toos and why I feel that
they should not be bred or owned. I think many of these letters come
from breeders or pet shops, nonetheless, here's how I feel.....
"Freedom's just another word
for nothing left to lose..."
As a skydiver that now only gets
to jump a few times a month (as compared to
every weekend for many years)
I know what it is to be grounded.... to have my "wings clipped".
I feel a great loss that reminds me on a daily basis of what used to be.
Few humans can understand this because it's not natural for them to even
consider leaving a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet and body fly
all over the sky, and then pilot your "wings" for the next 15 minutes through
Gods beautiful heavens under 5 pounds of nylon. But the large cockatoos
understand perfectly how I feel. And I know exactly how they feel.
You see... small birds fly mostly by instinct, while the larger birds like
the Moluccan and Umbrellas fly with the complete understanding and joy
of what they are doing. Because we know that these parrots are extremely
intelligent (much more so than just "a bird") we also know that they too
feel a tremendous loss when caged. So how about those 'Toos
that are bred in captivity? They have never soared, or even flown
a short distance, but I'm here to tell you that they too are born
with the instinct to FLY. And just because they've never had the
chance to experience flight, doesn't mean that it doesn't bother them on
a DAILY basis! This is the sadness I see in their eyes. This
is the REASON they were born! How would you like it if for no reason
whatsoever, someone placed you in a nice prison with good food and things
to keep you busy for the rest of your life? It would STILL be a prison
wouldn't it? It would be against your very nature to accept that
wouldn't it? Because you were BORN to be free weren't you?
My feelings about large cockatoos
and ownership have evolved into the following:
I feel that this particular species
should not be bred and sold. I feel that only institutions and zoos
with the proper facilities should be allowed to own them. Private
individuals with the means to supply huge aviaries should be licensed to
keep them. As their habitat will surely one day disappear, that's
still no reason for every Tom, Dick and Mary to own one. I would
rather see them become extinct as to see them suffer for 75 years in a
cage. And yes they WILL suffer, just as you would if placed in a
prison, even a good one, for a lifetime. They will lose their owners to
death.... or be abused or neglected... or shoved around to many homes...
or just become a mere commodity that will wind up in a rescue somewhere.
And even if they find a loving home, nothing less than free flight will
free them mentally and emotionally. Again, these are INTELLIGENT,
EMOTIONAL creatures unlike any other in the bird world. They are
almost humans with wings, and I know a little about how that feels, and
what it means to lose a big part of your life. Many of you cant understand
Look, I'm not someone who thinks
animals have souls or natural "rights". God himself gave us dominion
over these animals, to care for and treat with compassion. We all
must do what we think is right by them... but in our selfishness to "protect"
them, we are really doing many of them more harm in the long run.
They become prisoner companions at best. ( If you'd
like to know my feeling on animal
(Dont waste your time)
I know that if you've read this
far, you're seriously attempting to understand this creature
and what it means to care for such
an animal. I hope you make the right decision when
the time comes for you to weigh
the responsibility. Don't be selfish...be understanding.
Each of us has an opinion as to
the best way to combat the extinction and suffering of these large cockatoos.
You just read mine.
*Here is an interesting conversation
on my messageboard
From the looks of this site, nobody
should own a cockatoo. I
am hoping to have a very close
member of the family in the form
of a feathered friend.
*** You are correct in assuming
that I personally feel that large
cockatoos are not "cage" birds.
I am very interested in a 9 month
old umbrella female, that sounds
wonderful. And as you indicated,
the owner is pregnant and moving cross
country and doesn't want to take
*** Large 'Toos shouldn't be
sold at less then about 6 months of
age (and even then, they're
still not weaned). So now this 'Too
is only 9 months old and the
lady wants to be rid of it already?
Why do you suppose she bought
the bird in the first place? (Dont
answer that...we all know why)
I loved my Blue and Gold, and we
spent about 2 hours a day
quality time out of the cage together.
The rest of the time is
spent in the cage or on top in
the living room with someone
home all the time. Is this
not sufficient for an umbrella?
*** It might be. Keep in
mind that the average Umbrella wont just sit on
top of the cage like a Macaw.
He will want to go exploring all over the
place (and chew things). If
this means that he then will be in the cage 22
hours a day, I think not.
Are they really the most horrible
birds on the earth to have so
much negative information written
about them in one place?
*** There is absolutely nothing
"horrible" about large cockatoos.
There are only horrible owners
that dont understand their needs, and soon
tire of having such a dynamo
as a pet. I'm only trying to tell people that
they'd better be prepared to
get pregnant and have a 2 year old human baby
for the rest of their lives
if they consider a large 'Too. Because that's
exactly what you're getting.
How do you feel about macaws?
Do you believe all large birds
should be kept in the wild?
And how sad to say that all the
happy stories you read about on
the internet are just stories of
misery loves company. Could
it not be true, that the owner
setting the time allotted for me
time be set and then the bird
knows where it stands and everything
*** Let me ask you this:
If I came to your house, forcibly took
you from your family, locked
you away in a very nice prison for
life, with all the food you
could eat.... would YOU be happy about it? Even
if the guards were "like family"
and waited on you hand and foot....would
YOU like it? You see,
animals with wings were meant to fly, especially the
larger ones with bigger brains.
These are the ones who suffer most. So
your question about "setting
the time allotted for me time be set and then
the bird knows where it stands"....
is forcing even more rules on an animal
that isn't even domestic in
the first place (as much as we'd like to believe
they are). However, there
IS truth to the fact that IF you're going to keep
this bird in prison for a lifetime,
a few rules will help YOU out some. I
mean, like a child, a large
bird must have some rules also. (I just think
its a shame that one in prison
already must have to put up with "rules" on
top of everything else.)
But that is the case.
Do you believe I should leave this
umbrella and seek out
another macaw, or that all large
birds should be in forests or
**** All large birds should be
left alone, but that's never happened and
never will, so we work with
what we have. Isn't it funny that we would never
consider keeping an Eagle or
Great Heron as a pet, but demand that all the
tropical species are fair game
for our pleasure? As far as advising you: If
after reading the pages of letters
on my site...and all the other information
presented there - you feel that
you are in the 5 to 10% of those capable of
giving either bird the proper
home - then by all means do so! The real
question however is: "Am I really
capable...or am I just being selfish
and want a pretty pet".
You must decide that.
Are We Really Saving Them?
One of the most common assertions made by breeders is that captive breeding
is necessary to keep parrots from becoming endangered. Breeding parrots
in captivity is not going to save the species in the wild. Most birds are
bred outside any official conservation program, and the vast majority of
birds bred in captivity are bred for purely commercial purposes. Captive
breeding fails to address the leading causes of wild bird population decline
-- habitat loss, pollution, and the pet trade. Moreover, captive release
programs are nonexistent for most species and are largely unsuccessful
Breeding contributes to overpopulation since it results in breeding
more baby birds for the pet trade. Breeding facilities often resemble nothing
more than warehouses of birds for production purposes. Breeder birds are
routinely placed with a mate in small cages with nothing more than water,
food, and a nest box.
Many breeders and stores will sell unweaned baby birds, claiming
that finishing the weaning process by the purchaser will "guarantee" a
hand-tame bird. Nothing could be further from the truth. Building a nurturing
relationship with a parrot begins when the bird, no matter what his or
her age, learns to trust. The reality is that many birds who have not successfully
completed weaning may not learn to eat on their own and can actually starve
to death. Many baby birds suffer or die from physical injuries such as
burned or punctured crops (stomachs) and infections from inexperienced
hand-feeders. Unweaned chicks are sold because hand-feeding is labor-intensive;
it is far more profitable to sell the chicks quickly despite the risks
to the young bird.