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PROMOTING EXCELLENCE IN PARROT CONSERVATION AVICULTUREAND WELFARE

The World Parrot

Trust

VoI.10No.2 May1998

TUEWELFARE OFPETPARROTS And some 'Guidelines for Parrot Rescue' By Michael Reynolds ANCIENTHISTORY Thirtyyearsagothepetspageof a leadingUK newspaper wroteafew wordsaboutmy aimto createa breeding centrefor parrots. This broughtin 200letters,someasking for helpwiththeirparrots,anda

affectspetparrots,jus~asit does dogsandcats. ThedIfference seemsto beth~twhereasthedogs andcatsareqUItewe,llfunded~n~ lookedafterby avanetyof soCIeties andsh~lters, theparrotsdon'tseem to receJVe thesameleyelof support

few askingme to take their birds,

from the generalpubhc.

~breederor dealer who,fails to

VETERINARYCOMMENTS I askedourveterinaryconsultant (andtrustee)AndrewGreenwood for someinputfromthepointof viewof anavianvet.Herearehis comments, "Wecertainlyseealot of neglected parrots,sufferingphysical deprivationfrompoordietandlack of exerciseandpsychological deprivationfromtoolittle attention or continuous confinement. Neglect hastwoorigins- genuineignorance,

mstructthenewownerm the corre~twayto carefor andmanage thebIrd.Most?f theailmentsof parrotsareatt~lbut~ble to negl~ct !hroughbad,~Iet,fllthy condItIOns, mcorrectpamng,exposureto hazardous mat~rials,andsoon.The ~antonsprea~mg of contagious dlseas~ knowmglybet~een collectlO.ns, andthencemtothepet market,ISall tooco~monandleads to tragedyfor bothbIrdsand owners..., , ThesolutIonISsImple:educatIOn,

SoI droveall overBritain,visiteda varietyof petparrots,andcollected eightbirds. TwoMoluccan Cockatoos (toonoisy!),one UmbrellaCockatoo, oneScarlet Macaw,andfourassorted Amazon Parrots,Twoof thesepairedup immediately, despitehavingbeen keptin solitaryconfinement for eighteen yearsandthirteenyears respectively.Theyalsodefied convention by beingdifferent species - ablue-fronted anda yellow-fronted - butatthattime neithertheynorI knewthiswas wrong.Theyhatchedtwochicks, andayoungjournalistcalled Rosemary Lowcameto seethem, Butthat'sanotherstory.

whichis usuallyseenin thepet parrotownerandis easilycorrected, ands~upidcar~lessn~ss, whic?is seenm badavlcultunstsandIS muchharderto correct.Thesecond, of course,oftenleadsto thefirst whenapetownerbuysabirdfrom

education, education. Weneedto educateparrotownersin theuseof completediets,in hygieneand, particularly,in howto trainparrots with kindnesssothattheycan safelyspendthemajorityof time out of theircageableto fly. We needto educatebreeders thatthe' publicdonotwantor needbirds thatarefixatedona seeddiet, whosewingsarealreadyclipped, andwhoarenotproperlyweaned. Aboveall, weneedto educate both ~roupsthatthereis absolutelyno justificationfor theimportationof wild parrotsin masstrade.While thistradecontinues, peoplewill buy birdswhichwill nevermakegood or happypets,andbreeders will neverhaveanadequate financial incentiveto producethebest c:J possiblebirds."

SHOCKING CONDITIONS ThepointI wantedto getto is that myvisitsto abouttwentyaverage homeswithpetparrotsgavemea shockI will neverforget. While perhaps halfof thebirdsI sawwere keptprettywell,therestwereliving in astateof misery. Youknow whatI mean:filthy cages,fedonly sunflower seed,neverlet outof a tinycage('hebites'),neversprayed, completely lackinganyphysicalor mentalstimulation, andworse.We all knowthisneglectandignorance

, 'psittacine (sit'a sin) Belonging or allied to the parrots; parrot-like

,,

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NOTA PRETTYSIGHT.Thismacawis oneof the 'casualties',

If we can save the parrots, we may yet save ourselves @WPT I


Increasingly, however,many caringmembers of the 'parrot community'aredoingwhattheycan to helpthesituation. Because the WorldParrotTrusthasmembers acrosstheworldandcommunicates with all developed avicultural countries,weknowthatsimilar actionis beingtakeneverywhere to try to copewith theproblembirdsthe 'casualties' of ourobsession with theparrots. Hereis anexcerpt fromaletterfromaWPTmember, thatstrikinglyexpresses thedeep concernsof manywhokeepand careaboutparrots: I donotbelieve,assadasit sounds,thatrealisticallyparrots andpeoplecancontinueto coexist onthisplanetaslongasparrot sufferingis ascommonplace asit is now.Bird Talk(February1998 issue)printedarticleson the subject,bringingattentionto the othersideof breeding,afirst, andI commend themfor that.Pretty sugarybirdstoriesarethenormfor magazines becauseit sellsandit is pleasantreading. Wecannolongercomfortably release parrotsintodeforested, shrinkingrainforestsaspoachers will runup intotrees,grabthemup, cratethemandcruellyshipthemoff for exportto Godknowswhatkind of conditionsall overtheworld. As longasparrotsareabout money,therewill becompromise andtheparrotswill bethelosers, nomatterhowloftyor wellintentionedtheorganisation,how prominentthecollector,how 'caring'thebreeder. Whydowebreedthem?To preservethespecies? Forwhat?To go to morebreeders, morepet shops,morecollections,homes wheretheownerscagethemall day, usuallyin toosmalla cagewiththe proverbialcupof seed,beforethey gettiredof themandretirethemto a darkgarage(verycommon)or sellthemto thenext 'parrot fancier'. If youdoubtthis,checkthe classifiedsectionunder'Birds'or the 'Buy,Sell,Trade'in your newspaper birdads,or attend auctionsfull of unwantedbirdssold withasmuchcompassion asused cars. Wewantthemto befeathered humans,mimickingour voices.We takeall their 'parrotness' outof themwhenwedeprivethemofflight andpunishthemfor screaming or bitingor makinga mess.Probably no othercreatureis moredeprived of thenaturalelements of his environment thanaparrotin captivity. Parrotsshouldreallyneverhave beencaptivepets!Cockatoos, so 2

Green-wingedMacaws'Sparky'and 'Inca', petsof MandyandGraemeHartleyHavers,helped openthe 'Rat & Parrot'pub in Leeds.U.K. Our activememberAvril Bartonarrangedthis,and earneda ÂŁ250donationto thetrust.

demanding of constantaffection,are extremely stressor change intolerantandthereforearesooften pluckedandmutilated.Feather pluckingandmutilationare conditionsvirtuallyunknownin the wild. Theseareconditionsof captivityonly. A well-knownUSavian veterinarianhassaidthatthereare 176,000unwantedbirds,probablya veryconservative estimate.Zoosare overwhelmed withoffersofparrots whoseownershavetiredof themor havehada lifestylechange.Thereis TheParrotRescueCenterin Holland,containingmanyinsane birds.Whyarewebreedingmore? Weneedto bettercarefor whatwe alreadyhave;to rehabilitatethe worstcasesandlovemorewhat birdsareherenow!An average parrot is re-homed15-20timesin his life.Imaginethestressto each birdat everychange.Bird theft,so commonnowadays, is unbearably traumaticto themandoftenso preventable. Largefreeflight' aviaries,properlywiredagainst predators,areprobablytheonly compassionate, logicalsolutionfor captiveparrots.Cages,nomatter whatsize,areoftennothingmore thanlonelyprisons. I onceaskeda verygoodreputable breeder,'Doyoueverworrywhat happenstoyourbeautifulbabies downtheroadaftertheyaresold?' His response was,'Youcan'tthink of thatwhenyou'rein thebusiness'.

Thisto meis unacceptable, at least for theparrots.I guessthat'swhy I'll neversellor makemoneyoff the backof aparrot.If I cannolonger carefor them,I will find themthe besthomepossiblebuttheyare neverfor saleanymorethana child of mine. Let usneverforgettheactual qualityof life wearegivingparrots in thegloriousnamesof 'conservation','savingendangered species',etc.,all noblephrases.Let usdealwiththerealityof those alreadysharingthisplanetwith us now! I ferventlyprayfor a kinderfuture for all parrotsandespecially for enlightenment of thehumanracein theirregard,onwhomtheydepend for everything. Wearetheircaptors, weowethemthebestof ourselves. SabraBrea MiamiFlorida (305)386-5817 Hereis aresponse from aUK parrotrescueorganisation: DearMr Reynolds, I amwritingwith regardto your proposalsconcerningguidelines for parrot rescuecentres,andwould thereforeliketo contributeour own proposalsin thehopeof our Charity beingperceivedastheexemplified standard.Butfirst I wouldliketo mentionthatI haveviewedyour ownproposals,to whichI agree. Thepossibleintroductionof guidelines/standards is notbefore time.Therearemanyunscrupulous


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peoplewhoarejumpingonthe 'bandwagon'andsetting themselves upasparrotrescue services withtheintentionof breeding andhand-rearing offspring for profitablegain.Thisis unacceptable and,subsequently, has become a seriousproblemto the welfareofsuchparrots,asthese peoplearenotknowledgeable and thusfail to understand and recognise theterms:neurosis, malnutrition, environmental requirements, stimuli,psychology andspecialised aviancare,which all rescued parrotsneeddueto their historyofabuse.Weestimatethat only25percentof companion parrotsarebeingcaredfor in the correctmanner,whichI feel is a generous estimate! Wewouldliketo seethe implementation of approvedcriteria for thosesanctuaries that houselrescue/rehome parrots.Thisis

rescuecentresandrehoming servicessettinganexample.This appliesto birdmagazines which shouldbemoreconscientious about thecontentsof theirpublished articles. Yourssincerely JulieHamilton Director,NewLifeParrotRescue Service,Huntingdon Tel/Fax:+44(0)480390040 Theseviewsarestronglymade, anddemonstrate theconcernfelt by manyabouttheplightof large numbersof captIveparrots. It has to besaidthatsomescientistsand

then?'ouradviceto newor wouldbeparrotowners. It wouldbea mistake,however,to assume that thewaymostparrotsarekeptis satisfactory. Soin this35thPsittaScene let us openupdiscussion of thismatter, whichaffectsperhapsonethirdof all theparrotsin captivity. WPT hascalculatedthattheremaybeas manyas50million parrotsin captIvityworldwide. If anyonehas analternativenumber,pleaselet us knowaboutit. If athirdof those arebeingtreatedwith indifference or actualcruelty,throughignorance

essentialifparrot welfare is to move

forward,asthepresentstatusquois suchthatI find myselfonthesideof antibirdkeeping, especiallyin the category of thecompanion parrot! However, whosetsthecriteria?It shouldneverbesaidorpresumed thataparrotkeeperlbreeder of 10, 20or30yearsstandingisdoingit rightbecause of his/heryearsof experience - toomanyaresetin theiroldwaysof birdkeepingand easilydismiss currentdata.I feel it isonlythosewhoaresodeeply passionate whoaremostableto shareanaffinitywithparrots.Parrot keeping issocontradictoryandso controversial because it is charged onthedepthof ouremotionsand understanding. Wearenowwitnessing the amalgamation of individualpeople whoarehighlyawareandwho deeplycareaboutall aspectsof parrotwelfareandof theirplight.In simpletermsthismeanstheresultof organised pressuregroups campaigning for a higherstandard ofcarefor bothaviaryand companion parrot,notforgettingthe abolitionof thewild-caughtbird tradeanda nationwide banonbird auctions. I wouldliketodrawyourattention tothefactthatwehavenow terminated ourrehomingservice. Thesimplefactof thematteris that it doesnotwork! Wehavecarried outthreerepossessions andreceived halfourbirdsbackfromtheir adoptivehomes: parrotsneed stabilityandto continuesuchan operationwouldbedoingthese parrotsa grossinjustice.Education onamassscalei,\theonlyway forward,includingall societies, sanctuaries, charitabletrusts,

youngeveryyear,andwewouldnot wantto deprivethesebirdsof that essentialbIOlogicalfulfillment. It mustalsobestatedthatatParadise Parkweearna smallpercentage of ourincomefromthesaleof birds, althoughwealsocontributemanyto breedingprogrammes freeof charge. Whatweneedto strivefor is a freshandmoreconcerned outlook onthewelfareof captiveparrots.It is notdifficult to understand and sympathise with theanguishof a parrotrescuerwhodoesnotwant anymoreparrotsbredbecause they cannotbeguaranteed ahappylife. Morethananythingelseweneed to provideEDUCATIONfor the manypeoplewho,like us,will succumbto theinsidiouscharmof theparrots,andwishto bringthem intotheirlives. Thisis proposedin thefollowing'Guidelinesfor Parrot Rescue',whIchI recentlycirculated to avarietyof knowledgeable people,askingfor comments and critIcism. Nobodyhasdisagreed with theseguidelines,although somedoubthasbeenexpressed at my admittedlyquestionable guesstimates onnumbers. A VERYREALPROBLEM

Kirsty at Paradise Park with hand-reared Hawkheaded Parrot.

conservationists takeonlyapassing interestin whathappens to parrots outsideof thewild populations. A majorsupporterofWPT would preferusnotto spendtoomuch timeonthewelfareof captivebirds, butconcentrate onthewild ones. My response is thatwehave published34issuesof PsittaScene whichhavedealtprimarilywith conservation andverylittle with parrotwelfare.It's truethatwe haveadvocated largeflightsand environmental enrichment, succeeded in having300Goffin's Cockatoos returnedby trappersinto thewild,publishedwordsof wisdomfromSallyBlanchardon feather-picking, andissued200,000 copiesof 'Who'saluckyboy,

Photo:Ali Reynolds

or neglect,thatis anappalling indictmentof our species. PERSONALRESPONSIBILITY I feeltheneedto accepta shareof personalresponsibility.As an aviculturistfor thirtyyearsI have collectedandkeptover200species of birds,perhapshalfof them parrots,andhavebred150species. With my familyandsuperbstaffI still geta terrificthrill fromany breedingsuccess, whetherit's a nestfulof Hoopoes,aWattled Crane,or aHyacinthMacaw.We recentlyrearedourfirst ever Hawkheaded Parrot,andwe're reallyproudof him. Overtheyears wehavebroughttogethernumerous breedingpairsthatcontinueto rear

Please,fellow aviculturists,donot takeoffenceatmy reviewof this veryrealproblem,andthe suggestions putforwardfor trying to removeablot onourhobby. Andalso,fellow conservationists, try to understand thepassionthat liesbeneaththecommitment that manyof ushaveto learningmore abouttheintricate,fascinatinglives of ourbeautifulbirds. At thetime of writingthis,usingcolourtv cameras, wehavetheprivilegeof seeingtwopairsof macawsinside theirnests,broodingtheireggs, preeningeachothersosolicitously, themalefeedingthefemale,and engagingin otherinstructive behaviour.Any daynowwehope to seechickshatching- how wonderfulthatwill be! Andwhat welearnfromourcaptivebirdswill addto ourabilityto helpthemin thewild. STOPPRESS In conversation with anexecutive atDisney'sAnimalKingdomI learn thattheyhavejust accepted a small groupof rescuedparrotsfromthe DorisDayFoundation. Thebirdswill berehabilitated at theAnimalKingdomin Orlando, Florida.Witha leadlikethisfrom themightyDisneyorganisation, perhapsotherswill accepta shareof responsibilityfor the

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birdsthatfallbythewayside. It.,

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GUIDELINESFORPARROTRESCUE INTRODUCTION TheWorldParrotTrust(WPT) waslaunchedin 1989to workfor theconservation of parrotsin the wild,andtheirwelfarein captivity. In its earlyyearsit concentrated on fieldconservation projectsin parrotrangecountries,but more recentlyit hasbecomeawareof themajorwelfareproblemthat existswiththemillionsof captive parrotsin thedeveloped world. Manyparrotsareboughtona whim,perhapsasa 'prestigepet'. Thepurchaser mayhaveno comprehension of thecomplex needsof aparrot,andwill not realizetheimplicationsof taking onananimalthatmaylive four timesaslongasacator dog,and will needasmuchcareand attentionasahumaninfant,butfor perhaps forty years. In time, whenthesizeof thecommitment sinksin, theownermayneglector evenabusethebird. At thatpoint it maybesoldon,givenaway,or offeredto aparrotrescue organization.It hasto besaid,of course,thatsomeparrotsthathave beenkeptin satisfactory conditions mayhaveto betakenonby others, dueto theageor ill-healthof their owners. Whatis thescaleof theproblem? TheWorldParrotTrust,with the helpof theMORIpoll organization, foundthattherewere in excessof 600000largeparrots (excludingbudgies)in theUK in 1990. Extrapolating thatfigureon apopulationbasissuggests that thereareatleast3 millionparrots in theUS,althoughweareadvised thatthetotalmaybenearerto 5 million. Globallythetotalcanbe estimated at50to 60Inillion captiveparrots,smcethesebirds areaspopularaspetsin their countriesof originastheyarein therestof theworld. In timeit maybepossibleto createanintemationaleducation campaign to improvethelot of pet birds,butin themeantimewe shouldtry to address theproblem in ourownbackyard. Paradise Park,in ComwallUK, wherethe WPTis based,hasbeentakingin unwantedparrotsfor twentyyears, butis nowfull to capacityasare mostzoosandbirdparks. We knowof manyparrotrescue groupsin theUK, USA,Benelux, Germany, Italyandothercountries. Thesegroupsvarygreatlyin size, style,andmethods, butwhatthey havein commonis a serious ';;;':=:r,* 4

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shortageof funds. Thegreatmajorityof these groupsaresetupby genuineparrot loverswhorecognisetheproblem andtheneedfor action,andare ableto fundtheworkthemselves, or withthehelpof like-Ininded friends.Theirworkis likely to be limitedby shortage of funds, space,time,or all three. If we returnto thenumbersof parrots needingrescue,wecanstartby notingourexperience in theUK, whichis supported by inputfrom avianvets. Webelievethatas manyas30%of all petparrotsare seriouslyneglected.Inadequate nutrition,cage-bound withno spaceto spreadwings,no spraying,nobranches to chew, insanitaryconditions,no veterinary support.Thisis basedon visitsto homesall overtheUK, andno doubtwill applyin othercountries. Thisresultsin about200000 casesof neglectin theUK, I to 1.6 Inillion in theUS,andasmanyas

SOMEPROPOSALS

invitefurtherinputfromall sourcesof expertiseandopinion. Any individualor organization comInittedto aviculturewill 1. Any groupengaged in thistask shouldensureit hassufficient naturallyhaveconcernfor the funding,wideexperience of welfareof all parrots. It hasto be workingwithparrots,suitable recognized, however,thatall accommodation, expert aviculturists,petowners,andpetrelatedbusinesses havecontributed veterinarysupport,andsound to thecreationof thiswelfare methodsof assessing foster homes. broblem. TheWorldParrot Trust 2. Themotivationmustbenothing elieveswemusttogether accept otherthantherescue, resonsibility,andtakethe rehabilitationandlongterm fol owingaction: welfareof thebirds. Theprofit Supporta completeban on the motivehasnoplacein parrot trapping,tradingandexportof rescue. wild-caughtparrotsfrom their 3. Stabilityis vital. Thismeansa countriesof origin, unlessfor totalcomInitment onthepartof approvedbreedingprogrammes. thepeopleinvolved,plus . Voluntarilyreducethenumbers reasonable financialstatus. A ofparrotsbeingbredin business planis recommended. captivity.Theaimshouldbe 4. Someexpertisein public quality,notquantity. . Educatepotentialnewpetparrot relations ispubicity imtortant,to maximise about owners,sothattheyproperly parrotsin difficulty,therescue understand thecommitment they serviceavailable,andtheneed aremaking. for fundsandotherformsof . Helprescuegroupswherever possible, w ithfundingand 20 million worldwide. From the support. It is alsoimt째rtant workeffectively with ocal to facilities. practicalpointof viewit is parrotpeople, c lubs,and Thepointhereis thatanoverfortunatethatnotall these authonties. supplyof parrotsexists,andthis unfortunate birdswill beoffered 5. Thequalityandrangeof leads to lowerpricesfor the for rescueatthesametime. facilitiesmustbeadequate. producer, andeasier a ccess t o In theUK theremaybe20rescue Separate quarantine, hosital, parrotownershipfor peoplewho centres,eachhandlinganaverage rehabilitationandrre-reease of 100parrotsin ayear. If this sectionsareessential. mafinotbesuitable owners. As weI astryingto solvethemany guesswork is atall accurate, this individualproblems,weshould Supervision at all stagesby an meansthatabout2000parrotsare address thestructuralfaultsin the avianveterinarian is strongly 'rescued'in theUK eachyear. recommended. worldof parrots:toomanywildButthatmeetsonly 1% of the 6. Re-homingof rehabilitated caughtbirdsstill reaching need. If, in theUS,thereare100 birdsis akeyelementin the developed countries.to beadded rescuegroupshandling100birds workof mostrescueoperations. to toomanyaviary-bredbirds. eachyear,thiscomesto 10000 Thisrequiresinspectionof In thesecircumstances, is it parrots,or lessthan1% of the would-befosterhomes,the unreasonable to proposethat birdsin trouble. Thereaderwill educationof thosetakingon commercialobjectivesInightbe appreciate thatmanyof our responsibilityfor thebird,a givenlesspriority,in favourof calculations arespeculative, but documentrecordingtheprecise welfareobjectives? wehaveto startsomewhere.We commitment beingundertaken, Wemustemphasise thatthe wouldwelcomeinformationfrom WorldParrotTrustwasfounded andeffectivefollow-upto ensurethatall is well. informedsourcesin anycountry. andis runby aviculturists,and Whatcannotbedeniedis the Integrationof rehabilitated birds supportsourhobbythroughthick of endangered speciesintoan sheerscaleof theproblem. There andthin. Our'Manifestofor Aviculture'wasdistributed is no likely sourceof fundsthat EE or?therapprovedbreeding projectISrecommended. WPTis awareof, thatcouldeven internationallyin February1997 beginto meetthecostof this CONCLUSION andhasha (writein ifloU some wouldlike effectin acopy), urgentanimalwelfaretask. TheWorldParrotTrustwill Individually,andasa 'movement', promotingtheconceptof publishthese notesin PsittaScene, 'responsible aviculture'. This wecanaskfor helpfrom andwill askotherrelevant companies andfoundations responsibilitysurelyincludes associated withavicultureandthe carmgfor theparrotsthatbecome publicationsto drawattentionto theproblemwehavedescribed.It 'unsuccessful' petsandare petbusiness, butthiscannotbe will alsocommunicate with condemned t o Iniserable, expectedto solvetheproblem. unfulfilledlives. authorities t hatmayhaveinterest Ourconclusionatthispointis in thisissue. Wewelcome thattherescuegroupswill comment andcriticism. GUIDELINES FORPARROT continueto dotheirbestfor the RESCUE parrotsandwill relievemuch MichaelReynolds suffering,but will beunableto WorldParrotTrust,Hayle, Thesearesimplya draftfor Cornwall, UK TR27 4HY discussion, basedoninformation copewiththemajorityof birds May,1998 needinghelp. suppliedby rescuegroups.We ,.oh"', ",.,cc._,'.Wo"'," ,_oh"= '" ','-,'" -." -""", .,-

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Welfare of Pet Parrots - PsittaScene Issue 10.2, May 1998