Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Disposable Parrots

The Truth About Parrots: Best Friends Animal Society

Parrot breeders are a strange lot! If you visit just about any online parrot forum, say Patricia Sund's Parrot Nation, you'll run into parrot breeders in total state of denial (and we're not talking about a river in Egypt). Trying to argue with a parrot breeder about the companion parrot overpopulation problem quickly leads to the conclusion that parrot breeders live in a parallel universe where facts and reality do not apply. In this parallel universe, there is no companion parrot overpopulation problem. In this parallel universe the commercial companion parrot trade does not engender wild parrot smuggling across the Mexican border. In this parallel universe, parrot rescues and sanctuaries are full to the brim with unwanted parrots because the rescues and sanctuaries choose to be. In this parallel universe, discarded and abandoned parrots don't get shuffled around to seven or more homes in their lifetimes. In this parallel universe any parrot needing a new home can find one, if you simply work hard enough!

Parrot breeders are full of . . . (I'll be polite) Parrot Poop.

A thirtysomething female Cockatoo parrot named Simba back when she still had some feathers, currently living at Mollywood Avian Sanctuary. Simba is virtually naked now. A previous owner threw her against a wall and broke her keel bone. In spite of her history of abuse and neglect, all Simba wants to do is cuddle in your arms!

We recently had the opportunity to visit Mollywood Avian Sanctuary outside of Bellingham, Washington, north of Seattle. The number of abandoned and discarded Cockatoo parrots residing at Mollywood is truly heartbreaking. These parrots can never be rehomed. Yet parrot breeders keep breeding Cockatoo parrots because breeders and pet store chains have convinced pet owners of the desirability of hand-fed baby parrots.

We were pondering the question of why there are so many abused, neglected, and abandoned Cockatoos and other parrots when we came across a fascinating article on the Bear in Mind blog just published on PsychologyToday.com, Why the Caged Bird Does Not Sing: Captivity and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Parrots and People, by Gay Bradshaw. Traumatologists have discovered that caged parrots exhibited symptoms identical to humans suffering from chronic victimization:

Severely traumatized cockatoos who are rescued and receiving treatment at the innovative sanctuary, Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services, Inc (MAARS) commonly exhibit "rapid pacing in cage, distress calls, screams, self-mutilation, aggression in response to [human and other bird] physical contact, nightmaresinsomnia, and self-mutilation." Parrots are considered to be some of the most highly social species who bond for life and live in complex, closely knit flocks. However many rescued or abandoned parrots who come to sanctuary are so severely traumatized that they will not form relationships with humans or birds.

Parrot trauma is commonly misinterpreted by parrot owners, trainers, and behaviorists. When a parrot beak dives or bites its owner or handler, the action is not seen as a symptom of an unnatural environment, but as bad or problem behavior in need of punishment or training.

When examined through the lens of Complex PTSD, the symptoms of many caged parrots are almost indistinguishable from those of human POWs and concentration camp survivors. These include alterations in emotional regulation, consciousness, and relationship.

Continuing to breed parrots simply introduces wild animals into an unnatural environment, for parrots still are essentially wild animals, unlike dogs and cats that have been domesticated for thousands of years. Parrot training and behavior modification will only ameliorate and not eliminate symptoms of parrot trauma. Parrots will continue to act irrationally to humans, but perfectly rationally in light of this new interpretation regarding parrots and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Does your parrot misbehave and bite? Just dispose of it and buy another hand-fed baby parrot. Maybe you can train the next one to behave properly. Don't worry about discarding the first parrot. You won't be contributing to the companion parrot overpopulation problem because parrot breeders don't recognize a companion parrot overpopulation problem! To breeders, parrots are simply commodities. No more. No less. They'll keep breeding. If parrot sanctuaries need to build ever more facilities, well, that's their choice.

Here's a modest proposal: Can we at least stop breeding Cockatoo parrots? Cockatoos are simply not suitable to be pets!

Ah, fuck! No point in sugar coating it. Parrot breeders are full of shit! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this well-written blog. We thought long and hard before we released the Truth About Parrots, because we knew what we would stir up. I had a lady contact me to insist that less than 200 birds were smuggled into this country per year....and that the reason was because breeders offered a much better option, so smuggling has become a non-issue. Sigh. But even I was was surprised at the level of vitriol that came my way due to this press release. All I can say is come sit in my chair for one single day, then tell me there isn't a parrot crisis.

Jacque Johnson
BFAS Parrot Garden Manager