|Duke - deceased - April, 2017 - Lions Gate Animal Sanctuary|
I live in Elbert County, Colorado. If you also live in Colorado you may have seen or heard the news story recently about lions, tigers and bears being euthanized because the owners of their sanctuary recently lost their 'case' before our board of county commissioners to move to another piece of property within the county. I won't go into the details, but there is a link to the story below if you'd care to read it.
I won't take sides on this issue in this blog. I certainly don't know all of the details yet, either. I know some of the people involved, and I definitely know how our local county commissioners conduct business. There were no surprises with this decision. But it really stopped me dead in my tracks and made me think about our parrots and the situations that many birds find themselves in, due to the consequences of our actions or lack of actions.
There are parrot rescues and sanctuaries across our country. They are full to the brim. There are waiting lists. Some do a fantastic job with the resources they have; others are "getting by" at best. There are also well-intentioned private citizens who take unwanted birds into their homes, and many times these situations get out of hand...and you eventually read about them in the newspaper: people who take in a few, those few turn into 10, 20, 50 or more and then conditions deteriorate, animals suffer, and the birds are confiscated to be dispersed to other 'rescues' as best as possible, some euthanized. It's a frantic scramble...it always is. And it's not pretty. I can attest to that.
What happened in Elbert County with the cats and bears is horrific. There were at least 11 animals that were destroyed. But what happens when a huge parrot rescue goes under for whatever reason, or there is a large hoarding situation uncovered? Possibly hundreds, thousands of birds are immediately in need of shelter, cages, nutrition, veterinarian care. The logistics are overwhelming. How will all of that happen? Parrots (and ALL animals we have domesticated or caged) deserve the same attention and care that those huge wild animals did at Lions Gate. Yes, much smaller species, but in need of and deserving of the same humane, compassionate care. It's a monumental task. It's happened. And it will happen again.
What can we do? It starts in your home, in your own life...if we're talking parrots. First, don't get a parrot unless you have spent a great deal of time educating yourself on
1) the cost (veterinary care, food, toys, cage, etc),
2) the idiosyncrasies of the specific species of parrot,
3) the longevity, (Is this a passing desire or are you willing to commit to the lifespan of the bird, which could be dozens of years?),
4) how a parrot will impact the dynamics in your family with your husband, wife, children, other pets,
5) what your daily involvement needs to be, and
6) what you will do when you no longer can take care of the bird (ie, old age, your death & having a will in place).
If you don't go through that litany when considering getting a parrot, then DON'T do it. If you know of someone who is thinking of getting a bird, talk to them and share this blog. It is not fair to the bird. Without those considerations, birds can easily become throwaway pets, ignored, housed in a spare room with no interaction, end up in animal shelters, handed over to a relative or neighbor, into private homes that rescue, sold on Craigslist, placed on consignment in a pet store, or into an already overpopulated parrot rescue.
If you have a parrot, or parrots, make a commitment to that animal to see it through thick and thin, good and bad, and work through your differences by educating yourself. We are the ones who decided it was a great idea to put birds in cages and lions and tigers and bears in zoos, circuses, and ultimately into sanctuaries. We, as parrot owners, are responsible for making sure that our birds' lives are the best they possibly can be. It just takes a huge dose of forethought, responsibility, decency and humanity. We can do this.