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Here are just a few of the many references on large caged
1) “Pet birds: historical and modern perspectives on the keeper and
the kept,” by Dr. David L. Graham from the Journal of the
American Veterinary Medical Association. In this article Dr. Graham points
out that necropsies of “pet” birds often reveal evidence of “a life
beset with stress.” He partly attributes this stress to restriction
or deprivation of natural behaviors and activity including flight.
His recommendations for keeping a captive bird happy far exceed the
means most people are capable of providing. He writes, “It would seem
that the ideal enclosure for a captive bird is one of such size and equipped
with such internal furnishings that the bird would have no awareness of
its captivity. Anything less is a compromise and acceptance, on the part
of the keeper, that the kept may or will be subject to the stresses imposed
by a lesser or greater degree of restriction of its normal behaviors
2) “Who’s a clever parrot, then?” from New Scientist. This article
examines parrot intelligence and the ethics of keeping parrots captive.
The author describes that parrots develop strong and complex social-emotional
bonds and that they can develop behavioral problems when deprived of companionship.
Not surprisingly, biologists who study parrots refer to them as “flying
primates” and “honorary primates.” According to James Serpell of the department
of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge and its Companion
Animal Research Group, parrots should not be kept as pets unless caretakers
are prepared to devote as much time interacting with them as they would
a human child. Serpell contends that parrots will suffer unless
they are kept in large aviaries with other members of their own species.
Charles Munn, a well-respected research zoologist interviewed in this article,
believes that no one should be allowed to keep parrots over a certain size.
He has compared keeping large parrots such as macaws to keeping wolves
instead of domestic dogs.
3) “Considerations in selecting an appropriate pet bird” by Liz
H. Wilson, CVT, from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association,
highlights the behaviors of different parrot species. She also notes that,
“under the best of circumstances, parrots are difficult creatures to
live with, and few people will actually enjoy long-term cohabitation with
4) “Captive mangement of birds for a lifetime” by Susan L. Clubb, DVM,
from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, explains
that “many birds are given up within a few years of being brought into
their owner’s homes,” and describes the common reasons cited for giving
up “pet” birds. She notes that, “in many cases, owners simply do
not have accurate expectations when they purchase parrots or have
not been properly educated and made
aware of normal psittacine behavior.”
One of our primary concerns about the sale of birds is that very few
people are capable of caring for the special needs of exotic birds or comprehend
the seriousness of the commitment for the birds’ life span. Schuppli and
Fraser point out that “animal welfare may also be jeopardized if the owner
loses interest in, or commitment to, the animal,” and that “consistent
care may also be jeopardized if animals are very long lived. For example,
parrots in captivity can live 30-80 years, as do many primates.” Each year
thousands of birds are sold into the pet trade to individuals who are under
the mistaken impression that a bird will make an intriguing pet.
Eventually, whether due to frustration, disinterest, or concern, many people
attempt to rid themselves of the responsibility of caring for their birds,
or reduce the quality of care provided.
Once again, our assertion that birds do not make good “pets” is based
on our belief that it is inherently cruel to keep an intelligent, social,
and active animal adapted to flight confined and often isolated in a cage
that is too small to facilitate normal behavior. We also question the ethical
inconsistency of protecting our own native birds such as robins, blue jays,
bald eagles, and cardinals on one hand while exploiting the native species
of other countries on the other. We hope that petshops will continue to
evaluate the appropriateness of selling any birds in it stores and in the
interim immediately cease sales of the larger and more difficult to care
for species. Considering enclosed information coupled with reports from
bird rescue organizations it seems that the species with the most “objectionable”
behaviors and those most frequently “surrendered” with physical or physiological
problems are (in descending order), cockatoos, macaws, amazons, African
greys, and conures.
These references were compiled by Monica Engebretson of the Animal
Protection Institute. firstname.lastname@example.org