Protecting the Captive Parrot
This year as the Fourth of July rolls around, Birds of Paradise is thinking about the health of our democracy—but from a protecting captive parrots perspective.
As we recently completed two back-to-back emergency rescues for 46 innocent parrots, we see these events (collectively with our rescues dating back to 2011) as pieces of a bigger picture of the diminishing voice of the parrot– and shudder as to where this trend may be going.
So why are captive parrots still frequently excluded from animal welfare legislation, pet shop regulations, and existing animal cruelty statutes?
Why can an individual have a “collection” of parrots but have no legal responsibility to provide the simple basics for them… like adequate shelter, food and water?
Why can captive parrots continue to be commonly sold as pets or used for entertainment by pseudo-sanctuaries and organizations with questionable animal care ethics?
WHAT PROTECTION EXISTS, IF ANY FOR CAPTIVE PARROTS?
Debbie Huckaby gets asked this question a lot, so I decided to spend some time picking her brain about it.
As she explained, “I’m not a lawyer or certified animal rights activist, so I’m providing my own understanding on this issue. In general, the sale and possession of captive birds is regulated by a loosely-coupled patchwork of federal and state laws. From a federal law perspective, there are some laws that regulate captive birds—but they primarily regulate the importation of birds into the US and not specifically the care and treatment of them. Most cities have zoning laws, which limit the number of dogs and cats a person can own, but rarely do they put a limit on the number of pet birds in a household.”
She continued, “Some protection for captive pet birds exists in state law which present in a variety of state codes and regulations. The issue is that exotic animal possession laws rarely apply to exotic birds commonly held as ‘pets’ in the US—they mostly apply to larger game birds and other birds not commonly kept as pets from a public health or safety threat perspective. These are birds like eagles, hawks and owls.”
WE ARE BUT ONE SANCTUARY IN A LARGER ECOSYSTEM.
We are one sanctuary in Bradenton Florida that relies on donations to stay true to our mission and continue to operate our vital programs, including providing eligible parrots with constant human companionship and performing in an emergency parrot rescue capacity for abandoned, neglected and/or abused parrots.
Our parrot population alone has swelled to almost 400 and we sadly see no end in sight for emergency rescues.
But on a high note, we are not alone!
We proudly stand in unison with the hard work and dedication that all parrot sanctuary organizations do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
And we hope you will too.
Because, at the end of the day, it’s about care, love and compassion for these precious, innocent parrots.
IS IT TIME FOR A CAPTIVE PARROT BILL OF RIGHTS?
If there was a parrot bill of rights, would it include items such as:
Every parrot will be afforded an enclosure that allows them to move freely about and fully extend their wings in all directions and have at least one appropriately sized perch.
In other words, don’t even think about having an enclosure that's practically the size of the bird with no perches—or perches, cage bars, and grates with feces, mold or debris.
Every parrot will be afforded a nutritious species-appropriate diet (every day) of fresh fruits & veggies and pellets. Fresh water will be provided at least two times a day.
In other words, don’t even think about leaving rotting food in bowls, providing food that is appropriate to the species, leaving contaminated water—or providing no water at all.
Every parrot will be afforded clean and sanitary enclosures.
In other words, don’t even think about providing an unsanitary cage with excessive moisture, heat, cold or dust—or the presence of maggots, flies, or roaches; or insufficient natural or artificial light.
Every parrot will be afforded out-of-cage time and socialization with humans and/or other parrots.
In other words, don’t even think about letting your parrot suffer from excessive confinement, or keeping them in their cage 24/7 and denying them any out-of-cage exercise, or isolating them from human contact.
Every parrot will be afforded proper grooming and veterinary care.
In other words, don’t even think about letting your parrot suffer from overgrown beaks and nails, dull and matted feathers, abrasions, ulcerations, broken toenails and swollen joints or any other signs of illness and injury, including respiratory distress, open wounds, vomiting, lethargy and bloody feces.
This is, of course, just a start in addressing the basics of what we believe is a dignified living environment for captive parrots.
If we had our way, there might even be a right for each of these incredibly intelligent birds to have at least one toy to satisfy their natural urge to play and forage.
HOW DOES CHANGE HAPPEN?
What is happening is worse than we want to pretend is happening.
But how can we demand more support from federal and state agencies for protection policies for all animals including captive parrots?
How can we leave the generations that follow us with a heritage of captive parrot protection?
At Birds of Paradise Sanctuary, we obviously care deeply about this subject, but we don’t use any of our funds to further animal legal rights agendas or initiatives—we solely exist to provide vital care and rescue services for abandoned, neglected and abused parrots.
But, ta da… there are other organizations that support captive parrot policies and agendas, like The Avian Welfare Coalition, Born Free USA and of course, PETA. We thank each organization with this mission for their dedication to rights for captive parrots.
We are thankful you exist.
We stand with you in our hearts and minds.
YOU HAVE A VOICE AND THE MEANS TO EFFECT CHANGE.
And then… there’s YOU, your love, your caring and your support of, and for, captive parrots.
Your understanding that YOU are a part of WE, and that WE are the passport, spirit and the voice to a better future for every captive parrot.
Birds of Paradise thanks each and every one of you for exercising your voice in the plight of the captive parrot and we promise to continue providing second chances for so many beautiful parrots who need a place to land when they find themselves homeless through no fault of their own.
We wish you and your human and feathered family a fun and safe Fourth of July holiday.
- Learn more about BOPS Membership
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