Captive Birds: Hidden Victims
Captive birds — millions of whom suffer in the exotic "pet" trade — are some of the least visible victims of cruelty and exploitation.
Born Free USA works to reduce the number of wild-caught and captive-bred birds who are exploited in the international and domestic pet trade through public education about the special needs of birds, and the impact that the pet trade has had on these magnificent creatures; promotion of legislation aimed at increasing legal protections for captive birds; advising consumers not to patronize retail stores that sell live birds and other animals; and promotion of humane and environmentally-sound bird-watching ecotours that benefit bird conservation efforts. We are also a co-founder of National Bird Day, an annual event held in the U.S. to raise awareness of the exploitation of exotic birds.
The popularity of birds — whether captive-bred or wild-caught — as "pets" in the U.S. has enormous global influence, and fuels the trade in exotic birds around the world. The impact of the pet trade on wild parrot populations is devastating, with parrot species more globally threatened than almost any other major group of birds.
Even when bred in captivity, exotic birds are not to be considered domesticated animals. They are the native species of other countries and all their inherent behavioral and physical needs remain intact. Sadly, deprivation of their natural behaviors is an inescapable component of their captivity. Captive birds frequently suffer from captivity-related stress, leading to behavioral and physical problems. Birds sold as pets also very commonly suffer from nutritional diseases through the ignorance of those who purchase these exotic animals. Too many people purchase birds as "pets," only to discover they are ill-equipped to meet these animals' complex needs.
As a result, exotic bird sanctuaries across the country are overwhelmed with unwanted and abused birds in need of rescue and lifelong homes. Untold thousands more languish deprived and ignored in their cages because their caretakers have lost interest in them. Still more are released to fend for themselves (most will perish). Meanwhile, breeders and retailers continue to treat these animals as mere merchandise, peddling and producing them for profit.