The advertising and entertainment industry are partly responsible for the sustained popularity of parrots as pets. For those purposes, a parrot with a plucking problem is never shown. A young parrot is used because it has not usually started plucking yet. It seems people don’t talk much about their pet parrot when it has emotional problems and plucks out its feathers. It has been theorized that these parrot owners see beautiful parrots on TV and in the movies and feel ashamed, as if they have failed their parrot in a way apparently nobody else has. This ill-placed sense of shame prevents the parrot owner from looking for help or asking other parrot owners how they address the plucking problem. The issue stays out of the mainstream and the problem just gets grizzlier.
Parrots come to us through two routes: either they are bred in domestication, or they are illegally poached from the wild. The most common method of macaw poaching is when the nest is raided as the chicks leave their juvenile years. The parents are often killed and the young have a tendon cut in their wing so that they never fly again. Preparations to smuggle them into the country include shoving the parrots into short PVC tubes, which are packed like cordwood into suitcases. Approximately two thirds of the parrots smuggled into wealthy countries like ours, do not survive. The ones that make it are usually so profoundly traumatized, they become impossible to handle.
Domestic breeding isn’t much better. Parrots don’t breed easily in a domestic setting. Breeders generally use wild-caught parrots because they are more likely to mate successfully. Since they don’t breed easily, a breeder generally keeps a high number of parrots in inadequate conditions. Health issues and injuries are rarely attended to. Many times the parrots are kept in perpetual darkness because it is thought they will breed more. Best Friends is an animal rescue society devoted to saving a wide variety of species. They communicate often with our Aviary. Once they called us trying to place two Amazon parrots that were liberated from one of these “parrot mills.” One bird had broken its leg and received no medical care, and the other had stood in one position for so long, that some of its leg joints were beginning to fuse.
You simply cannot buy a parrot without it having been subjected to at least some measure of extraordinary suffering. The question is asked, “Why not just return them to their natural habitat?” The problem is that like us, their instincts are intact, but buried under layers of learned behavior. To function successfully in the wild, they need to see their own kind do nearly everything, even mate. A parrot that hasn’t, will not know what to eat, what to avoid, or even the proper body positions for successful procreation. Only 1% of parrots who have spent time in a domestic setting survive in the wild. One educated attempt to repopulate domesticated parrots into their natural habitat included bringing in wild parrots of the same breed, and the foliage that sustained them. The idea was that if the domestic parrots watched their wild counterparts eat their natural diet, they would learn what to eat. This well thought out trial ended in 97% failure.
For an ever-growing preponderance of reasons, it is the Garuda Aviary’s judgment and experience that parrots are not suited to be pets. The parrot trade industry seeks to take this wild animal and turn it into a pet. The Aviary reverses that position by letting the “pet” be the wild animal it needs to be.
read Parrots: Wild Animals or Pets? Part One
18400 River rd. Poolesville, MD. 20837
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