I also think your questions were excellent and pertinent. This whole blog is very well written and I’m glad someone has touched on the “guilt” some of us have for living with parrots at all. It’s kind of a catch 22 because we certainly cannot release them but we can choose to adopt rather than purchase a baby if we decide to expand our flocks – or begin one. Reduced demand is the only thing that will slow down breeding and reducing breeder output is the only thing that will will reduce the number of “un-homed” parrots. “Do as I say, not as I do” is always a tricky sentiment but that’s pretty much what those of us with parrots are expressing when we try to enlighten the uninitiated and share our qualms about parrots in captivity. Our parrots are very well cared for and they have known no other life but I can’t help feel it’s still not quite right and the number of parrots in sanctuaries would seem to bear this out.
There are two points that I want to touch on here. The first, as I’ve mentioned before, is the hypocritical guilt angle. They feel bad for owning birds, yet continue not only to own them, but to enlarge their flocks. If you feel bad about doing something, yet continue to do it, you are a hypocrite, no matter what kind of justification you can come up with for your actions. It’s like saying “I feel bad about beating my wife, but my religious beliefs say it’s okay so, even though I feel horrible about it, I’m going to keep on doing it.” This has been pointed out to these people and they readily admit they are hypocrites, they just don’t care. Sorry, when you admit that, your entire argument goes straight out the window. When you actually live the life you recommend, come on back. I’m not going to hold my breath.
The second, and maybe most important point is the idea that somehow these few people who own birds who feel some guilt over it can “reduce the demand” for birds nationwide, such that they can slow down or eliminate breeder output. Sorry, that’s just a losing battle and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot. Birds are the third most popular pet species in the United States. There are more than 9 million households that own birds and 12-17 million individual birds currently in captivity. If you think that anyone gives a damn about your emotional hissy-fit, you’re wrong. Birds, like it or not, are big business. Yes, it’s a bad thing that there are lots of birds in rescues, but there are many, many, many millions more dogs and cats in shelters today and nobody has figured out a way to reduce demand for dogs and cats. Reality always wins and the reality is, there is a sustained demand for pet birds, there always has been and there always will be. That demand is growing every single year. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not, it is how things are. No matter what a few well-meaning individuals might want, they’re not going to change the mind of the majority, any more than the few people who want to end dog and cat over-breeding are going to stop people from letting their animals have puppies and kittens. Even in places where they’ve passed laws against it, it hasn’t done much to slow the tide, nor will it.
Part of maturing is realizing that reality matters, that accepting and embracing what actually is, rather than what you wish was, is important. I just don’t think these avian activists have reached that point in their lives, where they deal with the facts, not their own personal fantasies. That’s why it’s so hard to take any of them seriously.
My final point on the above comment has got to be about the “our parrots are very well cared for” angle. While I can’t say anything about the individual poster since I have no idea how their animals are cared for, I most certainly can say that a lot of the people who make similar comments that I’ve seen are lying through their teeth. We’re talking about people who live paycheck-to-paycheck, who have little stability in their lives, who move regularly, live in apartments, have no jobs, etc. These are the people we’re supposed to believe take very good care of their parrots? Sorry, I don’t buy it. Oh, I’m sure they do their best, they do without in other areas of their lives, etc., but far too many times, I’ve seen something serious come up and immediately, they don’t know what they’re going to do or how they’re going to afford the vet costs. The world falls apart almost constantly for these people, they simply have no financial wherewithal to take care of those emergency situations, yet they take high-and-mighty positions that they’re excellent pet owners. With every day a struggle to make ends meet, I just can’t be impressed at these owners, regardless of what it is that they own. What’s worse, these people tend, again in my experience, to have far too many birds to possibly take care of. One in particular that I can think of, she’s in her early 20s and owns at least 6 cockatoos, plus various and sundry other birds. These are animals that require continual care and interaction, not to mention plenty of expensive care. I don’t think one little girl can handle it all, yet she’s got the biggest mouth when it comes to “nobody should own birds!” Dogs, cats, birds or kids, all of these need financial, emotional and physical stability. The endless “we’re losing our house”, “I lost my job”, “I don’t know what I’m going to do” posts on forums tell me they really aren’t caring for their parrots very well, or at least the potential exists for everything to fall apart in very short order. Being on one’s high-horse, or I suppose high-parrot in this case, really makes no sense unless one has the stability to guarantee a lifetime of care, no matter what it calls for, under all circumstances.
I really get tired of posting these things, I feel like I’ve said it all before, but these are the issues that keep coming up. The second you suggest that all may not be hunky dory in bird-land, that people should pay more attention to their own pets and stop sticking their noses into other people’s affairs, they all freak out and run around like chickens with their heads cut off. The world is coming to an end! Everyone has to do things their way, they are always right, anyone who doesn’t think so is wrong and how dare anyone suggest that they shouldn’t write policy for everyone on the planet!
Of course, these are invariably the youngsters, the people most likely to be political liberals, so guess it’s not really a surprise. More clueless liberals, people without any real life experience, thinking they know it all.
One day, they’re going to grow up and realize they don’t.